Marks & Spencer is kicking things up a notch in Plan A, the company's ecological and ethical programme
which is designed to make M&S the most sustainable major retailer in the world by 2015.
The company announced a new partnership with UK-based charity, Cool Earth, to protect five thousand acres of rain forest in Peru and leave one million trees standing. M&S also revealed a new health campaign, Project Hope, which is trialing in Cambodia and aims to educate 14,000 workers garment workers in health and well being issues.
Mike Barry, the Director of Plan A at M&S said in a press release: “We’re tackling some of the biggest issues in sustainable business such as youth unemployment, clothes going to landfill and engaging consumers in more sustainable living and are very proud of what we’ve delivered. It’s making M&S a better business.”
“But we are also very conscious that we’re only part way through our journey of making M&S a sustainable, international multi-channel retail business. That’s why we’re currently working closely with our external Sustainable Retail Advisory Board to develop a series of new social and environmental goals to further strengthen Plan A and, in turn, our business.”
During their three year partnership, M&S will support Cool Earth's Ashaninka Project by giving control of the rain forest back to local indigenous communities and promoting sustainable harvesting. M&S and Cool Earth aim to achieve their goal of protecting one million trees by educating and empowering the indigenous communities to take on environmentally sustainable land policies in their farming. Charity Cool Earth plans to protect 10 million acres of rain forest by 2016 and is supported by a number of environmental specialists, such as Sir David Attenborough and Sir Nicholas Stern.
Project Hope was launched in February and combines the efforts of US NGO Project Hope and M&S to offer training to garment and factory workers on common issues they may face in the Cambodian garment industry. Factories who participate in the programme are encouraged to maintain better relationships with outside health clinics and have the opportunity to have their medical room upgraded. The goal for Project Hope is to create a leading model that can be applied to all M&S clothing suppliers around the globe.
Laura Hawkesford, Ethical Trading Manager at M&S said: “The project is helping us develop policies, procedures and materials that will enable us to roll out a health education campaign across all our sourcing territories. We’re already making a difference in Cambodia and it makes good sense to be a fair partner by ensuring good working conditions for everyone in our supply chains. This includes making sure our suppliers can offer the best possible advice and facilities on health which in turn boosts attendance, worker retention, happiness and productivity.”
The Plan A programme was launched in 2007 and extended in 2010. The programme takes a holistic approach to sustainability by drawing customers in, bringing in all areas of M&S and working together to fight issues such as waste disposal, usage of raw materials and climate change.