M.I.A. has teamed with Swedish fast fashion giant, H&M, to raise awareness for World Recycle Week, an H&M initiative that encourages shoppers to recycle unwanted clothing at H&M stores in exchange for store credit. The singer, who is known for her inclusion of political, social, philosophical and cultural references in her music, such as her recent song/video, Borders, which commented on the Syrian refugee crisis, will release a "visual content piece" for H&M, emphasizing "the environmental impact of clothes going to landfills around the world.”According to Pitchfork, “M.I.A.'s contribution will feature a new song written for the H&M campaign around the theme of recycling, according to a representative.”
If this all seems a bit disingenuous coming from a company that has made tens (if not hundreds) of billions of dollars based on an inherently unsustainable business model that promotes the frequent consumption and discarding of cheap, low quality garments and accessories (that are made in ethically questionable circumstances), that's because it is! It's called greenwashing, the practice of promoting green-based environmental initiatives or images without the implementation of significant business practices that actually minimize environmental impact (or any of the other negative effects of fast fashion). This often includes misleading customers about the actual benefits of a product or practice through misleading advertising and/or unsubstantiated claims.
As we've told you in the past, recycling is cool. It is important, but you know what’s not cool? Human rights abuses, design piracy and unsafe work environments. Also not cool: trying to hide important issues that stand in the way of safer, more sustainable fashion manufacturing (like the fact that as of now, 55% of H&M's Bangladesh factories don't have adequate fire exits, per Labour Behind the Label). So, next time you see a massive PR campaign about a fast fashion brand’s wonderful efforts, be sure to think twice. It may not be as wonderful as it seems.