The way we work

Buying Better / Inspiring Change is our approach to sustainability. It envelops our Selfridges strategy and informs the way we do business. We have set clear targets for how to deliver this strategy in terms of how we Build, Ship, Buy, Sell and Work.

How we build & ship

Taking responsibility for our environmental impact makes total sense: in a world where natural resources are limited, we are constantly working on ways to improve our efficiency.

As a family-owned business, it is important to us to ensure that we are helping to create a sustainable world for future generations. We work hard to reduce our direct environmental impact year on year and encourage our suppliers and customers to do the same. 


Read our Environmental Policy



Our targets



We aim to reduce our carbon emissions by 15% by 2020.

This is based on Scope 1&2 emissions – put simply: any emissions we make directly (e.g. putting petrol in cars) and emissions from bought energy. We are also starting to measure Scope 3, which includes emissions from our transportation and distribution network.


We aim to reduce our water usage by 12% by 2020.

We will achieve this by introducing hand sensors, clench taps and oil bins in our kitchens. 


We aim to reduce total waste by 70% by 2020.

We have been zero waste to landfill since 2014 and aim to minimise waste, reuse where possible, donate, repurpose and recycle.

We work with New Life, Work and Play Scrapstore and City Harvest to ensure nothing useful gets thrown away. Look out for our Less Waste, More Taste logo in Foodhalls and restaurants, which highlights items that have been made using surplus food (e.g., our delicious Brass Rail scotch egg, made using offcuts of salt beef and yesterday’s rye bread for crumbs. Yum!) 


We aim to measure our carbon emissions from our distribution network and set reduction targets.

We are working with our distribution partners, DHL, to map out the footprint of our distribution and e-commerce operation with the aim to set reduction targets. 



Our key achievements



We are 100% powered by green electricity in all our stores and offices.

We continue to look out for ways to reduce our emissions. 


In 2014, Selfridges was the first department store in the UK to achieve The Carbon Trust Triple Standard.

We have retained this standard to this day – a clear recognition of our achievements in reducing carbon emissions and water use, and an improvement in waste management. We have expert teams working across all sites to help us achieve our targets in day-to-day operations.


Selfridges is showing that a luxury retail shopping experience does not have to cost the Earth, becoming the first department store to achieve the Carbon Trust Standard for carbon, water and waste. Selfridges has a clear commitment to act as a responsible and sustainable business.

Darran Messem, Managing Director of Certification at the Carbon Trust


We use new technologies, recycled timber and even upcycled plastic (from yoghurt pots to refrigerator parts) to make our stores more sustainable.

New refurbishments give us an opportunity to update and increase efficiencies, such as replacing traditional lighting with LEDs, improving cooling systems and using new technologies. We aim to use FSC or recycled timber in all new building projects and have worked with upcycled plastic content on our most recent installations. 


Our iconic yellow bags contain 20% recycled coffee cups.

We pioneered a new award-winning process called Cupcycling, where coffee cups can be upcycled into our iconic yellow KRAFT carrier bags. James Cropper Paper Mill in Cumbria works with us to extract the paper content and downcycle the plastic liner. Our luxury bags are made with FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified paper.


We have banned plastic bags and are reducing plastic in all our packaging.

We removed plastic bags, cups and water bottles in 2015 as part of our Project Ocean campaign and have been working to ensure that our Selfridges Selection packaging is plastic free (watch this space). All our paper and card is FSC certified, but bags and gift card packaging contain upcycled coffee cup material too. 


Discover more about Buying Better/ Inspiring Change

How we buy & sell

We work closely with our brand partners, industry experts and teams to champion sustainable production processes so we can offer you more ways to buy better.

We are committed to ensuring 50% of our products are better for people and the planet by 2020.

Our approach is divided into three key areas:




We want to work with our brand partners to ensure compliance with all aspects of our ethical trading requirements and commitments.

We want to ensure that products sold by Selfridges are produced under humane working conditions and with respect for workers and their human rights, that animals are treated and transported humanely and that suppliers minimise their impact on the environment.

We are proud not to sell foie gras, products containing microbeads or any fish that is red-rated by the MCS (Marine Conservation Society). We also have a strict policy on fur: we are proud to have been fur-free since 2005.

Exotic skins free by 2020
This year, we are pleased to announce a phase-out of exotic skins. By February 2020, exotic skins will no longer be available to purchase at Selfridges. We are working with our brand partners to explore alternatives to exotic leather as we co-create a new, more ethical and sustainable definition of luxury.

Read our Ethical Trade Requirements

Our Ethical Trading Requirements are found within the terms and conditions of every supplier and concession contract. They are part and parcel of doing business with us. 




As a curator of some of the world’s best-known brands, we want to help our customers to make more informed, sustainable choices. We want to collaborate with our Brand Partners to drive transparency and improve sustainability and ethical practices across our industry.

Early in 2014, we became members of SEDEX, the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving transparency and visibility in global supply chains.

Membership of SEDEX helps us work together with our suppliers to create a culture of transparency across our supply chain. 




Selfridges is a world leader, and if you change what people see and what is in fashion, you start to change everything – and we have to change things: at the moment the fashion industry is the poster child for problems to do with environmental degradation, but Selfridges has the opportunity to show the positive contribution fashion can make.

Professor Dilys Williams, 
Director of Centre for Sustainable Fashion

We work with our brand partners to champion sustainable and ethical products and practices to our customers.



Our buyers work closely with our brands to bring you the best products where sustainability and style go hand in hand. To help tell the great stories that are out there, we introduced the Buying Better labelling scheme with three initial labels: Cotton, Denim and British Makers.

We work with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion so that our buyers have the best, most relevant information they need to bring you, our customers, more sustainable options and we’ve created an internal Buying Better Network and app to help guide our teams through some of the more difficult questions and certifications around sustainable fashion.

We intend to grow our labelling scheme in 2018 as we aim to meet our target of making 50% of our products better for people and planet by 2020.



We also work with Positive Luxury, a platform for positive living, whose butterfly logo can be found on product pages for brands that are following a wide range of sustainable and anti-cruelty practices. You can find out more about their story here. We want to highlight brands that champion sustainability through our partnership with Positive Luxury.

Discover more about our products and partners



We use our world-famous windows, stores and website to drive positive change and inspire our customers.

One of the main ways we do this is through our creative campaigns.


Some highlights include:


Project Ocean, 2011 to Present

Selfridges Project Ocean is retail activism in action – a multi-award-winning long-term partnership between Selfridges and The Zoological Society of London to protect our oceans from overfishing and plastic pollution.

Discover more


Material World, 2017

In 2017 we launched a campaign called Material World. The campaign examined sustainable textile development by pioneering designers, with a focus on the impact fabrics have on the world.


wastED London, 2017

We teamed up with New York's internationally-acclaimed Blue Hill restaurants to bring their thought-provoking food waste pop-up, wastED, to our rooftop restaurant at Selfridges Oxford Street, London.

wastED London built on the UK's vibrant food waste movement, joining forces with local farmers, fishermen, suppliers and retailers to reimagine by-products at every link in the food chain.


Bright New Things, 2016

Bright New Things was the third iteration of the Selfridges ‘Brights’ series, promoting designers who put sustainability at the heart of their practice. We highlighted nine designers that champion innovative new production methods and awarded womenswear designer Katie Jones a £50,000 bursary to develop her business.



In 1909, our founder Harry Gordon Selfridge said that 'at the heart of our business philosophy is the human element'. Today, as a family-owned business, our values and our people are at the core of everything we do.

Modern slavery and human trafficking goes completely against our belief in respecting people and their importance to our local and global communities. The increasing number of people trapped in some form of slavery is truly shocking, so we must work collectively to be aware of the risks, address them and eradicate slavery from our supply chains and our own organisations.

At Selfridges, we work with our brand partners and suppliers to mitigate the risk of these issues occurring in our supply chain through our Buying Better, Inspiring Change approach to sustainable business. Put simply, our team members know that they can report any concerns and that our management will respond to them.

Read the Selfridges Modern Slavery Statement 2018 in full here

How we work

Sustainability is the ability of current generations to meet their needs without compromising the needs of future generations. Being a family-owned company this rings particularly true for us – and so sustainability runs through the organisation at all levels. For us, sustainability isn’t just a ‘nice to do’, it’s simply the way we want to work.




Sustainability is managed through a Steering Committee, chaired by our Managing Director, which meets on a bi-monthly basis. Working groups for each element of Build, Ship, Buy, Work and Sell (the building blocks of our sustainability strategy) meet at least once a month and are led by members of our senior leadership team, all feeding into the Sustainability Steering Committee.

In addition to this, sustainability forms a part of our induction and training for all.




Our team members are a dynamic, creative bunch with plenty to say. Through the communities they show the power of people coming together from across the business and driving positive change. 

They can take part in a number of communities that address values, wellbeing, sustainability and innovation, regardless of where they work in the organisation. The two key ones that address sustainability are:



Buying Better Network

Individuals from our Buyers team drive our approach to sustainability when working with our brand partners. They follow a programme of learning, deep-diving into material issues. 



The Green Warriors

We have a community of over 100 Green Warriors who work in all different areas of the business, but are keen to make a difference, coming up with new ideas to make our business more sustainable and helping to communicate key sustainability initiatives.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead, 1901-1978


Selfridges Loves Volunteering

We encourage our team members to volunteer one day a year for a cause that matters to them. Many of them choose to volunteer on our annual Beach Clean with ZSL or by planting trees with Woodland Trust.


Charity partnerships

Our other key long-term charity partnership focuses on developing employability skills in young people. For seven years, we have worked with Centrepoint to mentor unemployed and homeless young people into employment, with team fundraising and an annual sleep out.