It takes a lot to rile me up, but a New York Times article outlining the wasteful behavior of H&M did it instantly. In case you haven't heard, a New York City H&M store was discovered to be destroying unsold clothing, including coats and gloves. The articles weren't damaged items, they were good condition items that for whatever reason simply had not sold. Instead of donating the clothing to an agency that could distribute it to people in need, employees at the New York store were instructed to cut it up and throw it away.
H&M responsded almost immediately by saying that it was an isolated incident that was not in line with corporate policy. They went on to promise that it would not happen again. The only problem with their statement is that it was not an isolated incident. Within minutes of tweeting a link to the article, an H&M department manager contacted me to report that she had seen the same practice going on in stores in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Other current and former employees soon chimed in that they had also taken part in destroying good condition clothing because H&M did not want the items stolen from the trash (presumably for sale on ebay) and didn't want to "dilute the brand" by distrubuting it to the poor.
Unfortunately, the practice extends far beyond H&M. Employees from stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, TJ Maxx, Macy's, Old Navy, and Gabriel Brothers reported that the stores they work in do the same thing. Could these be isolated incidents that go against corporate policies? Absolutely. However, this clearly wasteful practice needs to be highlighted, giving companies an opportunity to address it with their staff members to make sure that it stops.
I challenge you to ask questions next time you are out shopping. What does your favorite retailer do with the items they are unable to sell?
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