H and M: What a Waste

Recently, it came to the attention of the New York Times that H&M was deliberately trashing and destroying unsold clothing from their store on 34th Street in Manhattan. Homeless adults living in NYC went on record with the New York Times to state that H&M often leaves clothing outside of their store and that they often visit the store’s trash bins after hours to salvage any clothing that hasnt been deliberately cut or destroyed. 

“Gloves with the fingers cut off,” Ms. Magnus said, reciting the inventory of ruined items. “Warm socks. Cute patent leather Mary Jane school shoes, maybe for fourth graders, with the instep cut up with a scissor. Men’s jackets, slashed across the body and the arms. The puffy fiber fill was coming out in big white cotton balls.” The jackets were tagged $59, $79 and $129.

In a later article posted by New York Magazine, claims are made that the NYT attempted to contact H&M 10 times, and were finally given the following statement:

“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 it was H & M’s policy to donate unworn clothing to charitable groups. 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 so.

A TreeHugger blog post states that Wal-Mart is guilty for the same crime – cutting holes in unsold clothing and leaving them in the dumpsters.  The blogs author, Lloyd Alter, gives information from a Wal-Mart spokesperson as well.

A Wal-Mart spokesperson said that the company typically donated or recycled such items, and did not explain how the store just happened to have a giant hole-punching machine.

 In today’s day and age it seems almost ludicrous that an organization as large as H&M  would do something this wasteful. Although throwing unused clothing in a dumpster is bad enough, knowing that clothing was specifically ruined so it couldn’t be worn is a whole other level of negligence.

As somebody who worked in retail for years, I remember the painful process I went through counting inventory, boxing up sale items and sending them to other stores across the country. I always scoffed at the company for wasting so much paper and plastic, but throwing out clothes and destroying them intentionally is never something I would expect from any clothing organization, big or small. If sales are down and sale items aren’t selling, wouldnt getting a tax return on a large donation to needy homeless shelters come off as much better PR than catching a homeless man dumpster diving for an intentionally ruined jacket?

Seems pretty negligent to me. I’m just hoping H&M’s store managers are feel pretty moronic right about now.


January 14, 2010. Uncategorized.

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