South Africans will soon be seeing a new label on a wide range of clothing at Woolworths, as the retailer today launched its “green label”, which will be used to help customers identify textile items from babywear to homeware made with fibres from sustainable sources. The launch marks the latest step on Woolworths’ far-reaching “good business journey” announced by CEO Simon Susman in April 2007. This ambitious 5-year plan will see the retailer fundamentally change the way it does business in order to address the challenges of transformation, social development, the environment and climate change. Included in the plan is the intention to accelerate efforts to reduce the environmental impact of products and processes by introducing more textile items made with sustainable fibres such as organic cotton, eco-wool, bamboo, hemp and soya. From Summer 2007, these items will all be easily recognised by their “our green label” neck- or waistband tags and swing tickets. Woolworths’ Head of Marketing Charmaine Huet explains: “As an organisation, Woolworths believes it has a responsibility to take the lead, both in terms of our own behaviour and in terms of providing our customers with choices that fit with their own ethos. Our green label is about being aware of our place in the ecosystem, about realising that everything we do has consequences. Woolworths has made a commitment to leaving the world a better place than we found it. Our organic products and sustainable fibres are tangible evidence of that commitment. And our green label is a visible demonstration of it.” Sustainable fibres are not new to Woolworths. The company, in fact, pioneered the use of organic cotton in South Africa, introducing its first organic cotton garments in 2004. In January 2005, the retailer announced its intention to incorporate a minimum of 5 percent organically grown cotton into its basic cotton textile items – t-shirts, underwear, etc. – and has also steadily increased its offering of clothing made of 100 percent organic cotton since that time. As part of its good business journey Woolworths has committed itself to increasing the total sales of organic cotton clothing to more than R1 Billion by 2012. For Summer 2007, Woolworths’ new green label will be featured on a wide range of clothing, from 100% organic t-shirts, jeans, shirts and underwear, bamboo shirts and socks, to garments made with 5% organic cotton, in virtually every clothing department including menswear, womenswear and kidswear. Items made from other sustainable fibres, including hemp, soya, and organic linen, will be added as they are developed. The labels themselves will be printed on cotton twill, while swing tickets will be printed on paper made from recycled pulp and attached with a pure cotton string. Says Huet,”We have been encouraged by the enthusiasm with which our customers have adopted organic cotton and other sustainable fibre fabrics. Like the labelling on our organic foods, our green label will make it easier for them to identify clothing and other textile items that are in keeping with their own environmental ethos.” The green label swing ticket puts it this way: “Like you, we’re concerned about the wellbeing of our planet. We’re committed to using sustainable fibres and environmentally friendly processes so we can leave a better world for our children.” ENDS Notes for the Editor The good business journey Woolworths ‘Good business journey’, announced by CEO Simon Susman on 19 April 2007, is an acceleration of Woolworths ongoing commitment to managing the business’ impact as it continues to grow and meet the increasing needs of South African consumers, and specifically defines a 5 year plan to 2012 in four key areas: Accelerating transformation • Become a level 4 contributor (dti code) • Drive preferential procurement • Advance skills development and equity ownership • Push our “South Africa first” approach harder Driving social development • Utilise Woolworths expertise in enterprise development • Increase social contributions to more than R300m per year Enhancing environmental focus • Increase organic and free range food sales fourfold to over R1bn per annum and increase organic-content clothing sales to more than R1bn per annum • Continue the transformation to healthy eating & lifestyles through the Good Food Journey • Accelerate environmental conservation and biodiversity programmes • Reduce and recycle packaging from source through to customer Addressing climate change • Reduce relative carbon footprint by 30% • Focus on energy savings and transport emissions • Open a trial carbon neutral store Woolworths and organic cotton Having taken the lead in the introduction of organically grown produce in South Africa a number of years ago, Woolworths has also pioneered the introduction of organically grown cotton to the South African market. Cotton is one of the world’s most important agricultural crops; more pesticides and herbicides are used in the conventional cultivation of cotton than any other single crop worldwide. Growing cotton organically eliminates the use of these chemicals. Supplies of organic cotton worldwide are limited, though Woolworths, along with other major international brands such as Marks & Spencer, Nike and Timberland is a sponsor of Organic Exchange, a non-profit, U.S.-based organisation which promotes the use of organically grown cotton throughout the world. Woolworths and bamboo Woolworths launched its first textile product made from bamboo in 2005. While not ‘organic’ in the sense of being certified, bamboo is 100% naturally grown and thrives without herbicides and pesticides. The fastest growing plant in the world, bamboo is prolific and sustainable as a crop. In fact, bamboo can actually be beneficial to the environment, helping to improve soil quality in degraded and eroded areas. As a fabric, it’s soft, smooth and comfortable – naturally breathable, absorbent (three to four times more absorbent than cotton) and cool to the touch. Bamboo also has its own natural thermal properties to help the wearer stay cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather. It is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. Issued on behalf of: Woolworths Issued by: liquidlingo Communications Contact: Jackie Busch +27 21 424 1530