By Jade Snart, senior sustainability manager, George at Asda
Over the last few years, climate change has been high on the agenda and following this year’s COP26 event in Glasgow, the spotlight is now more than ever on retailers to ensure they are making the changes that will reduce their impact on the planet. While the UK government has introduced advice on how retailers can tackle climate change, the pressure is also coming from consumers, with 93% of people globally now looking for a retailer’s green credentials.
As one of the UK’s biggest supermarkets and the second largest clothing retailer in the country, here at George at Asda, we have a responsibility to do the right thing for our customers, not only on the price and quality of our goods but on the impact we have on the world. Our sustainability journey began in 2006 and we have been working hard to improve the livelihoods of the people working in our supply chains while reducing the environmental impact our products have.
In 2019, we introduced our new George Sustainability strategy which builds on the work we’ve already done. The strategy ensures we constantly commit to reducing the environmental and social impact of our goods. As a division, we also created our five sustainability pillars that reflect the journey and measures we are taking to support a more sustainable future.
While we know change won’t come about straight away, as an industry, we all need to think about the impact we’re having on the planet. We’ve taken responsibility for our actions and created a strategy that puts sustainability at the core. Here are some key actions we’re taking.
As an organisation, we’ve recognised that we want to bring about positive change, but doing this alone can often be daunting, which is why collaboration has always been at the heart of how we can tackle these international issues. We have worked with several partners, such as the Ethical Trading Initiative’s programmes to improve working conditions in India and Turkey. And in October 2021, we partnered with Peppa Pig and Ecologi to offer a range of responsibly sourced cotton clothing, through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), as well as footwear, accessories and toys, as part of Hasbro’s Plant with Peppa campaign. Plant with Peppa aims to teach children about the global importance of trees and Peppa Pig’s reforestation programme pledges to plant 10,000 trees, through projects across the UK. Planting trees is so crucial as it helps to tackle global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide, eliminating and storing carbon and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere.
A variety of trees including Oak, Maple, Crab Apple, Cherry, Silver Birch and Scots Pine will be planted and customers will be able to check their progress at the Plant with Peppa, virtual Peppa Forest on the Ecologi website, where they can click on each tree to find out where they have been planted and how well they are growing.
This is just an example of how collective action is making a difference – we’re forging key partnerships with ethical organisations and bringing our customers along on the journey so they can help us bring about change.
Committing to sustainable products
At George, we design all our products with sustainability in mind. By 2025, we’re committing that any George fashion or George Home products using polyester fibres will be made using a minimum of 30% recycled content. So that means that drinks bottles, rather than ending up in the ocean or in landfills, will be reused and made into clothes and other fabric products. We’ll also only sell products that contain responsibly sourced viscose and cotton by 2025.
The root of change starts from within
We know things can’t happen overnight, but for George at Asda, the key is to continually develop an effective sustainability plan that holds the business accountable. We want to make a positive mark on our planet and if we work together by forming strategic partnerships and taking our customers and employees with us on our journey, then change can come about.