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August 1, 2020

Spotlight On: Shop Til You Drop Has Made the Planet Too Hot

How Selfridges’ New Initiative, Project Earth Can Change the Way We Shop

How can we change the way we shop and regard clothes? From shopping malls to the advent of the e-commerce model, it’s evident that shopping remains integral to modern life. Since the e-commerce model rose to popularity in the early 2000s, the ease at which we can shop and consume continues to complement our fast-paced lives. Amidst COVID-19, conversations surrounding the repercussions of our consumer habits have taken centre stage. As concern for the climate grows, how we shop is under heightened scrutiny—and for good reason.

For the British luxury department store, Selfridges, changing the way we shop is not only necessary but also possible. As outlined in their sustainability new initiative, Project Earth, which launched on 17 August 2020, the 111-year-old department store has publicly committed to changing the way we shop by 2050.

Repair and resell to reshape shopping

Selfridges is no stranger to sustainability and for the last decade has placed sustainability at the core of their business—in the hopes that it can inform customers about the origin and environmental impact of their shopping choices, and ultimately, change the way they shop.

By working closely with over 300 brand partners, with the additional support from the Woodland Trust and WWF, Project Earth will kickstart its efforts over the course of eight weeks beginning 17 August 2020. Various innovations and conversations aimed at reinventing retail operations will take place at stores and online channels to heighten awareness of the company’s newest endeavour, such as addressing the materials used in products; exploring new retail models, like repair and resells; and engaging with teams and new partners to inspire a shift in mindsets. Big and small steps will comprise how Project Earth will reshape how people shop. 


“Now more than ever we must double down on our efforts to reinvent retail with sustainability at its heart and a way of working which is regenerative for humans and nature.”

– Alannah Weston, Selfridges Group Chairman


A whole new way of doing business

For those familiar with Selfridges’ history, Project Earth may seem like a natural step for a company who in the last decade has made strides to instil sustainable practices into its business practices. Under the direction of Alannah Weston, Selfridges Group Chairman, sustainability has become an increasing focal point for the company. From initiatives such as Project Ocean, a conservation programme launched in 2011, in partnership with the Zoological Society of London, to create awareness about overfishing to sustainability awareness campaigns, such as “Buying Better/Inspiring Change,” sustainability remains integral to the Selfridge business model and one that Weston has championed since she joined the company in 2004 as creative director. 

Project Earth is a culmination of previous efforts towards achieving sustainability and is propelled by a broader commitment to reach science-based targets and achieve net-zero carbon by 2050 as outlined in the Paris Agreements. Similarly, Project Earth will introduce “Project Earth labelling” which will replace “Buying Better/Inspiring Change” labels introduced in 2017. This new labelling system will be displayed on signposting available to customers in the store as well as online products with sustainable attributes. Labelling a products’ origins and carbon impact has become an effective way for companies to foster a broader understanding of what makes a product truly sustainable. And to Selfridges and Weston, transparency is way forward.

“For the last decade we have taken ground-breaking steps to put people and planet at the heart of our business, embedding sustainability alongside creativity,” said Weston. “Project Earth is not only our bold, new commitment to stretching environmental targets, it is about imagining new ways to do business, within the next five years.”


“Out of the global pandemic has come an understanding of how fragile and complex our systems are, but also how our planet and people can benefit if we act collectively with a shared purpose.”

– Alannah Weston, Selfridges Group Chairman


We have to act collectively to save the Planet

Since the launch of Project Ocean in 2011, Selfridges has remained focused on how to shift the perception and overall mindsets both inside the industry and within their customer base. Like many other fashion industry leaders, Weston recognises the need to reinvent retail model so that it prioritises sustainability and inspires its customers to do the same.

“Out of the global pandemic has come an understanding of how fragile and complex our systems are, but also how our planet and people can benefit if we act collectively with a shared purpose,” says Weston. “Now more than ever we must double down on our efforts to reinvent retail with sustainability at its heart and a way of working which is regenerative for humans and nature.”

Read more about the Selfridges’ Project Earth.

*edited. Earlier version stated ‘zero carbon by 2025’.