The H&M incidentJanuary 8, 2010Jon Brooks 6 Comments »
You may have heard about the big to-do going on over H&M (as well as Wal-Mart) dumping unsold clothes. A few days ago a City University of New York grad student noticed hundreds of the stores’ discarded garments and called the New York Times, which wrote up a story.
What happened next has become a familiar story in the annals of bad corporate p.r. H&M took too long to respond, and the Web went wild. A day later, H&M issued a statement. From Wallet Pop:
But that has not stopped the negative posts on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. Some examples…
H&M and Wal-Mart Slap the Poor in the Face
Despite 1/3 of New York City being poor and thousands being unable to afford new winter clothing, H&M and Wal-Mart have decided to throw out and destroy unworn, unsold clothing rather than donating it to those in need…Cynthia Magnus, a graduate student at City University of New York, noticed piles of discarded clothing “outside the back entrance of H&M on 35th street in New York City. Just a few doors down, she also found hundreds of Wal-Mart tagged items with holes made in them that were dumped by a contractor.”
Magnus listed intentionally destroyed items found among the twenty garbage bags of clothes such as “gloves with the fingers cut off, 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. The waste is especially heartless considering that just around the corner from that H & M is a big collection point for New York Cares, which conducts an annual coat drive. A spokeswoman for the charity said, “We’d be glad to take unworn coats, and companies often send them to us.” In addition to the lost opportunity of helping those in need of warm clothing, the actions of the two clothing corporations were environmentally irresponsible, generating huge quantities of unnecessary solid waste.
Wal-Mart responded to the report saying “the company normally donates all its unworn goods to charities, and would have to investigate why the items found on 35th Street were discarded.” H&M originally did not return phone calls or emails about the issue but after several days released a statement promising to stop destroying the garments at the midtown Manhattan location and pledging to donate future items to charity. “It will not happen again,” said a spokeswoman who also said the company would make sure none of the other locations would do so either.
That better be the case or I certainly will not be supporting that brand ever again.
From Bitter Wallet
One thing remains unclear however. Does all this mean that H&M don’t mind selling stuff that don’t meet ’safety requirements’ and ‘chemical restrictions’, but they do mind giving it away to charity? Hmmm. That’ll need clearing up I’m sure. Failing that, if you’re good with a sewing machine, it’s obvious you should get down the arse end of the High Street clothes shops… they’re chucking stuff away which you might be able to do something cool with.
From The Recessionista
My hope is that H&M will investigate this and stop the “alleged” practice of discarding clothes. After reading the comments from (another blog), it appears other retailers engage in the practice of destroying clothing and goods that don’t sell, damaging them so that others can’t profit from reselling them. Maybe the “Great Recession” and the loud voice of The New York Times plus Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere can bring about some social change here….The phone no longer just rings off the hook at the corporate public relations office. Now the Internet lights up too with thousands of posts and instant messages. Talk about pressure to behave responsibly.
Comment on The Frugalista
I think it is a horrid and wasteful practice, but I’m sure the reason H&M did not bother to comment is because it is a completely normal practice among many stores — I know that Dillards and many others have the same practice. I’ve since tried to stop shopping at stores that do that, but it’s hard to find out!
From Culture Slant
Disgusting and Greedy A-Hole of the Week
D&G should be the new initials for store H&M. H&M along with Walmart (of all stores), was found throwing out clothes that they could not sell. Now, throwing them out so homeless people could find them, may not be too bad. The problem is they throw them out after cutting them all up so no one could wear them…Now with all the homeless people we have out there these two companies could not donate the clothes?
…It’s bad enough that restaurants do that kind of stuff, but now clothing stores. I mean at least clothes can be stored for a length of time, unlike food. Shame on you Walmart and H&M, you earn the A-Hole of the week award!!