Gap’s CSR Executive Discusses Green Journey

by | Dec 1, 2008

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gap_inc.jpgKindley Walsh-Lawlor, senior director of Social Responsibility and Environmental Affairs with Gap Inc., shared her insights into the company’s future journey towards sustainability with Green Business Innovators (via Triple Pundit).

Walsh-Lawlor says a key to Gap’s success will be consistent brand communication. She says the company will need to tie the two fundamental pieces of the social and environmental side of things together and ensure Gap’s messaging is aligned and connected. “A lot of companies [are] either about sustainability or they are about social and ethical sourcing or social and human rights. And so what I want to do is ensure that whatever we’re doing is connected.”

At Gap, Walsh-Lawlor says that the leverage of having several brands under Gap’s umbrella -Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy – has allowed for small changes to lead to huge impact. For example, the company recently switched to using post-consumer recycled paper for price tickets across all brands. Walsh-Lawlor says “it saves so much paper as you look across how many units we buy every season, everyday, that are shipping around the world.” However, she says one of the difficulties of doing this type of work is presenting the return on investment on the initiatives.

She says the company is also looking to partner with other industry leaders to “help move mills to think differently, to help factories think differently and ultimately for the products to be made differently.”

In October, the company unveiled a one megawatt solar power system at its West Coast distribution center.

The stakes are high: Gen Y and Millennials, who represent about $520 billion in buying power, are including clothing in their organic purchases. This has pushed other company’s to enter the fray. It’s not just companies like Nau (recently relaunched after shuttering in May) and Indigenous Designs that are going after these consumers. Perry Ellis has introduced a line of ecofriendly outdoor garments that will include pants and shirts of organic cotton. Target has introduced its first line of eco-friendly apparel at luxury retailer Barneys New York.

Gap itself has introduced its Organic Cotton T-shirt for men.

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