Zara lovers, rejoice. Following in the footsteps of fast-fashion brands like H&M, the retailer just launched a new sustainability initiative and ethical clothing line. Dubbed Zara’s #JoinLife initiative, the new collection, which is designed for “a woman who looks into a more sustainable future,” is made with materials aimed at reducing environmental impact, like organic cotton or recycled wool.
RELATED: 10 Eco-Friendly Fashion Brands to Reduce Your Buyer’s Remorse
The collection is next-level chic. The androgynous pieces inspired by earthy, mineral tones are right on trend for fall. Think: the kind of high-wasted pleated trousers you’d expect from a killer ’90s power suit, a bevy of bell-sleeved dresses and architectural tops, and a handful of oversize trenches.
Zara’s sustainability efforts go beyond the clothes—the retailer is applying the sustainable mind-set to everything from the products to the packaging. As part of the overall brand overhaul, Zara is committing to using boxes from 100 percent recycled cardboard. The “boxes with a past” initiative means that boxes are packed and reused in stores up to five times before the cardboard is recycled and made into fresh boxes. According to the retailer’s website, 56 percent of all online orders are currently delivered in these recycled boxes. Zara also teamed up with a list of cool designers, photographers, and all-around creative individuals—such as interior designer Ciszak Dalmas and photographer Pierre-Ange Carlotti—to turn the recycled boxes into ultrachic DIY projects complete with make-it-yourself tutorials on its website.
Finally (and seriously finally), the brand is starting to do something about all the clothes we’re tossing out every time we go for a new fast-fashion wardrobe update. Like H&M, Zara now has a recycling program that will make getting your old clothes into the right hands supereasy. The retailer currently has drop-off points in stores across Europe and will be doing the same for U.S. stores in 2017. In Spain, Zara will even pick up clothes right from your home. All the clothes you ditch when you pick up some new seasonal must-haves will be donated to either the Red Cross, Oxfam, or Cáritas in Spain, who will sort and reuse them in the most sustainable fashion.
RELATED: Your First Look at H&M’s Natural and Organic Beauty Line
The #JoinLife initiative is arguably a little ironic—the fast-fashion industry has taken a lot of heat for its largely negative environmental issue. According to an investigation by MSNBC earlier this year, most items are worn only seven times before we ditch them for a closet upgrade, which means the clothing industry is churning out 150 billion new items a year. All that fast-fashion-fueled production means a need for supercheap labor and an increase in the world’s sweatshops, not to mention a massive carbon footprint left by the collective production facilities.
So are initiatives like Zara’s #JoinLife or H&M’s Conscious just greenwashing? Maybe. But for retailers that currently make around $20 billion in sales every year, even the smallest green step matters.
Allure fashion director Rachael Wang shares her style tips: