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January 11, 2010

This one really got to me.

Last week, if you missed the story, the New York Times did a story on clothing retailer, H&M.  It seems that they have been tossing out and destroying perfectly good clothes that they could not sell; cutting the fingers off of gloves, putting knives and scissors to shirts, jackets, etc.

At the back entrance on 35th Street, awaiting trash haulers, were bags of garments that appear to have never been worn. And to make sure that they never would be worn or sold, someone had slashed most of them with box cutters or razors, a familiar sight outside H & M’s back door. The man and woman were there to salvage what had not been destroyed.

In the process of researching this story, it turns out that the practice of tossing and destroying goes much further than one chain. It being reported that Wal-Mart is a participant in the same practice.  The question is how many other retailers are engaged in the same wasteful practice?

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Melissa Hill, said that she had been unable to learn why new clothing with the store’s tags had been destroyed, but she added that the company typically donated or recycled such items.

There is an update.  H&M has agreed to no longer continue this hateful, wasteful practice.

“It will not happen again,” said Nicole Christie, a spokeswoman for H & M in New York. “We are committed 100 percent to make sure this practice is not happening anywhere else, as it is not our standard practice.”

Ms. Christie said that H & M’s standard practice was to donate unworn clothing to aid organizations. She said that she did not know why the store on 34th Street was slashing the clothes, and that the company was checking to make sure that none of its other stores were doing it.

Had it not been for the persistence of Cynthia Magnus, a graduate student at the City University of New York, we may never have known about this needless destruction of clothing and goods.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2010 5:29 pm

    I worked 14 years in the retail field for Wal-Mart and Home Depot, and I can attest that this practice is widespread. In fact, it is standard procedure. At Home Depot we were ordered to throw away tons of perfectly good merchandise into the trash compactor every day. Ever wonder what happens to those big kitchen cabinet displays? They get destroyed. I’m talking about those huge, complete kitchen displays that have working counters, cabinets, drawers, sinks, faucets, etc…All destroyed. Contractors used to ask me to sell these displays to them, but I was never allowed. We threw away so much product it was sickening. The issue is that to get return credits from the manufacturers, the manufacturers insist that the merchandise be destroyed. They cannot be sold at a discount or given away. We threw away a solid mahogany front door that had gotten nicked and wasn’t sellable at full price: Answer-throw it away and get a full manufacturer’s credit. Discontinued lines? Out of style merchandise? Throw it away and get credit. It’s a wasteful practice, and makes no sense. But it is extremely widespread at all the biggest retail chains.

    Dave Urban
    Green Man T-Shirts

    • January 11, 2010 8:54 pm

      This is very, very distressing. There simply is no excuse for this in today’s political/social climate. Corporations need to review these policies … these are PR disasters in the making. Certainly there is another choice besides return credits or the trash.

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