The Green Guide: How sustainable is ZARA?

How sustainable is your wardrobe? Introducing a new column by Jessica Carroll that challenges fashion’s eco credentials. This week, she asks the question: how sustainable is ZARA?

zara blazer
Natasha Pszenicki

Blazer, £69.99, zara.com

Materials

On the surface this looks promising – the blazer is part of Zara’s sustainable Join Life label, which pledges to use recycled polyester and organic cotton. But on closer inspection, the percentage of recycled polyester is only guaranteed up to 25% – whereas this blazer is 74% polyester, and it’s not clear how much of that is recycled.

Suppliers

The label states that it was made in Morocco, but beyond this it’s difficult to unearth any further information. Campaign group Fashion Revolution releases an annual report which rates the transparency of 250 companies, looking at everything from recycling to working conditions. In 2021 Zara scored 36 out of 100.

Packaging

Impressive – this arrived in a 100% recycled box, there was no plastic packaging and even the tape was paper. All bags in-store are paper too. The company has pledged to eradicate all single-use plastic by 2023.

The extra mile

Zara is making good progress with its used clothes collection programme. Got any old clothes you don’t wear any more? Drop them off in the collection bins in any Zara store and they will be donated to non-profit organisations to be recycled or used to help those in need.

Carbon footprint

Not too bad for this piece. The Moroccan factory where the blazer is made is close to Zara HQ in Spain, which means fewer air miles than something produced in its other factories in Asia and the US.

Verdict

The fabric is good quality and the style classic so, unlike most fast fashion, you could wear it season after season. The Join Life range is a positive step. Zara does, however, release around 500 garments each week – just under half of which are Join Life. We’d love to see fewer product drops to encourage more considered shopping.

Our rating: 3 stars out of 5. Getting greener, but still too many product drops.

Fashion director: Shelly Vella