Have you ever wondered what happens to clothes that large chain retailers don’t sell? Not boutiques like Oak or stores like Barneys or other designers that can send things to sample sales, but huge stores full of stuff that’s too cheap to resell, like H&M or Wal-Mart. The New York Times reports that both H&M and Wal-Mart throw out unused clothing people don’t buy. But they want to make sure that, after they throw stuff out, people can’t wear or resell the clothes. So they destroy the items by cutting holes in them with machines. If they’re dealing with a pair of shoes, they go to the trouble of cutting the insoles so you can’t wear them. Puffy jackets are slashed across the body and the arms are cut off. The 34th Street H&M discards the destroyed but otherwise perfectly good merchandise in trash bags behind the building. Wal-Mart has a contractor that dumps their destroyed unworn clothes in a space on 35th Street. Poor people who need clothes are freezing all over the city, but rather than donate unused goods, these stores are destroying them and treating them like garbage.
People who know about the loot go to scavenge for goods that aren’t destroyed since whole, wearable items make it through sometimes. Wouldn’t it be easier to simply donate the stuff so they don’t have to bother with cutting everything? A New York Cares that holds an annual coat drive and would be happy to have H&M’s unwanted goods is located just around the corner from its 34th Street location.
A spokesperson for Wal-Mart told the Times that the store normally donates unused items to charities, and needed to investigate the 35th Street situation. H&M did not respond to ten requests for comment from the Times yesterday. The store also throws out plastic hangers in perfectly good condition, which is ridiculous, because clothes may go out of style, but those certainly do not. The Times reports:
H & M, which is based in Sweden, has an executive in charge of corporate responsibility who leads the company’s sustainability efforts. On its Web site, H&M reports that to save paper, it has shrunk its shipping labels.
Maybe they donated $5 to save the polar bears last year, too.