While Nordstrom (JWN -0.28%) continues to make adjustments to its business operations in light of COVID-19, the company has announced a new plan for sustainability. The plan is centered around three areas: climate change, the environmental impact of its merchandise and services, and what it calls "circularity," or recycling.

Making an impact on the world

Nordstrom has outlined six goals to meet by 2025:

  • Designate a target number by which to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Decrease single-use plastic (including shopping bags) by 50%.
  • Use at least 50% environmentally sourced materials in certain Nordstrom-made products.
  • Repurpose at least 250 tons of merchandise.
  • Determine 15% of merchandise to be sustainable.
  • Contribute $1 million toward innovations in sustainable practices.
An image from a Nordstrom fashion campaign.

See You Tomorrow, a Nordstrom resale shop. Image courtesy of Nordstrom, Inc.

"Through this COVID-19 crisis, we've been given a unique opportunity to reimagine our future and rethink what kind of company we want to be for our customers, employees and shareholders," said president and chief brand officer Pete Nordstrom. "It's clear that to deliver value to our stakeholders and communities, environmental sustainability needs to be a priority for our company." 

Taking the first steps

Nordstrom is starting with several steps to meet these goals. The company is planning to phase out single-use plastic shopping bags at all 245 Nordstrom Rack off-price stores this year. It has also pledged $100,000 to sustainability initiatives, joined Make Fashion Circular and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and added sustainable beauty products to its web site.

Staying in top shape

Nordstrom has done better than other department stores as retail has changed and the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily shuttered stores. Barney's filed for bankruptcy in February, Neiman Marcus is teetering, and Macy's is desperately trying to stay afloat. These types of initiatives are part of the company's appeal.