“Being green and generating a profit are not mutually exclusive, competing values for businesses. They have to exist in harmony. It must be a win-win,” said Tom Cole, vice chairman of Macy’s Inc., discussing the retailer’s sustainability action plan at the Initiatives in Art & Culture seminar Friday entitled, “Green: Sustainability, Significance and Style.”
Cole described Macy’s “as the new kids on the block” when it comes to sustainability practices. With 180,000 employees, 155 million square feet of retail space and being one of the largest jewelry vendors in the world, the $26 billion retail chain has embarked on a sustainability strategy that not only preserves the environment, but makes good business sense as well.
“It’s early in the game, and there’s plenty of room for improvement,” said Cole. The retailer has established an action plan that’s “simple and direct,” with the number-one goal of stopping waste and reducing the use of scarce resources.
Among the key initiatives: Reduce the use of paper; turn off the lights when not in use and at night; use recycled paper for mailers; switch to biodegradable hangers, and pack boxes with biodegradable pure corn and potato starch bubble packs, rather than nonrecyclable foam peanuts.
Last year, Macy’s employees used five million pieces of copier paper. “If we reduce paper usage by 20 percent, we can save over $1 million a year,” said Cole. In one pilot, Macy’s started printing copies on both sides of the paper, and reduced paper usage by 43 percent. If that were applied across the company, Macy’s could save $2.3 million for shareholders, said Cole.
The retailer spends $285 million a year on electricity and uses 5 million lightbulbs. The firm switched all the lights to compact fluorescent lamps, and is encouraging employees to turn off lights in stock rooms and turn off all office machines at night. “Ata company the size of Macy’s, it makes a difference,” said Cole. The company also installed solar roofs in 30 Macy’s stores, primarily in California. “They cost a lot of money, but they’ll save a lot of money over the years,” he said.
Going forward, Cole said Macy’s plans to reduce its total use of energy by another 10 to 15 percent by 2010, having already reduced energy consumption by about 9 percent over the past five years.
The retailer is also trying to print fewer materials, and is aggressively increasing the amount of recycled paper it uses. On the West Coast, Macy’s recycles 1,000 tons of cardboard a month.
Macy’s uses 300 million hangers, and has begun replacing nonrecyclable ones with recyclable ones, which use 20 percent less material, and cost 3 cents less. Macy’s also shifted to handled shopping bags, which use 30 percent recyclable material.
“The former bags were not recyclable. You couldn’t even burn them. We use 63 million of these shopping bags a year.”
Macy’s also started selling reusable cotton totes where part of the proceeds are donated to the National Park Foundation. So far, Macy’s has raised $2.7 million.
Michael J. Kowalski, chairman and chief executive officer at Tiffany & Co., who spoke at the conference, said his firm also is focused on initiatives centered around the environment and stainability. In 2002, the company discontinued selling jewelry made of coral, an endangered natural resource, and Kowalski even testified on Capitol Hill to create legislation concerning a ban. While it wasn’t passed, the executive was hopeful the incoming administration will help see through such a bill.
Tiffany is also taking aim at U.S. mining laws and has spoken out against opening a mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska — a home to one of the biggest gold and silver deposits in the U.S., and also a center for wild salmon proliferation.
In regard to mining and remaining in accordance with environmental procedures, Kowalski is seeking to create a set of ethical standards within the industry governed by a third party.
“We are taking steps on the road to progress, are we satisfied? Not yet,” said Kowalski. “Our industry needs a group or a common organization to help us all in the movement towards sustainability. Luxury and fashion brands have an opportunity and a responsibility to make great change.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast