RECYCLE WEEK: Make your money and your clothes last longer

Written by Rebecca O'Connor on 16th April 2016

Recycle Week starts on Monday, and H&M, maker of a conscious clothing range, with singer M.I.A, is supporting, with this song and also by allowing people to recycle clothes in any of its stores.

Similarly, Mountain Warehouse, the outdoor clothing retailer, has just announced a new initiative called Jacket In, which allows customers to trade in old jackets and receive 20% off a new one. Until June 6, jackets brought into stores will be collected by Clothes Aid and the money raised will be donated to one of the UK’s biggest youth charities, YMCA.

Recycling aside for a second, making clothing supply chains sustainable from an environmental and a social POV is one of the most important ways to get the world spinning the right way again.

It’s four years to the month since the shocking collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh, killing 1,134 workers. Luckily, things are moving on. You can read our post on investor action to prevent modern slavery here.

H&M and M&S are among the bigger fashion brands doing their bit. Inditex, owner of Zara, as well as Levis, Adidas and Primark are also doing better than others, according to research by Ethical Consumer and Fashion Revolution.

But H&M’s latest campaign has also been criticised by green campaigners, including Livia Firth. As Greenpeace says: “The best solution for combating textile waste is to stay away from impulse purchases from fast fashion retailers.” Which means that recycling rather misses the point.

Products that are built to last are preferable to the constant cycle of buying and recycling.

Switching from short-term to long-term is a good lesson for money management, as well as shopping.

By taking a long-term approach, you may well save more money over time. But with every one paying lip service to sustainability, how do you know who is walking the walk and who you should trust with your cash for life?

How can I make longer-term financial decisions?

Research service, as well as price

When you are searching for a new insurance policy, mortgage or savings account, don’t just go for the cheapest or highest return – check the service levels of the provider too. Does it score highly on websites such as Fairer Finance or B. Heard, value comparison sites? If other customers are happy, this might save you the hassle of switching again in a year or two years’ time.

Does the provider have a long-term culture?

This is a hard one to know the answer to, but some companies, such as Legal & General, are trying to embed long-term decision making in their culture by, for example, reporting results half-yearly instead of quarterly. This tends to also lead to more sustainable business practices. Mutually-owned building societies such as Nationwide have a strong focus on customer service because they want their customers, who also own the business, to stay with them for life.

Don’t be seduced by short-term profit or value promises

Investment commentary invariably focuses on returns, looking at historic performances and also trends that might give an indication of future performance. It’s natural for us, in the absence of any other meaningful criteria, to make most of our financial decisions based on cost or prospective profit. Most active fund management that promises to deliver better returns (for significantly higher fees) does not outperform benchmarks, according to a series of recent reports, it just costs more.

So if there are no huge financial advantages to investing fast, in companies that often take short cuts to deliver those higher short term returns, then why do it? Slow and steady wins the race, as they say. And a nice sustainability portfolio that exploits little and delivers modestly should do the job. Try the Fund EcoMarket, run by Julia Dreblow, a Good With Money expert, to find the right one for you.