H & M Takes Heat For Discarding Unsold Clothing – w/ Update

H & M, as well as Walmart are being fingered in the unsavory practice of destroying then discarding unsold clothing rather than donating it,  in a recently published NY Times Piece: “A Clothing Clearance Where More Than Just the Prices Have Been Slashed.”

It can be hard to wrap your head around the sheer volume of waste that type of behavior produces. When browsing through clothing stores, I have occasionally allowed a spare thought or two to the question of where the “left-overs” went. Think about the sheer volume of garments that can be packed into a single mall boutique. Sure, there is a constant rotation of the less savory styles (fashion ages more rapidly than technology) to the clearance sections, but even the world’s biggest clothes-horse doesn’t have a closet big enough to store it all (of course I do feel like some of these clothes make a circuitous stop at stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s where bad clothes go to die).

This is a case of supply far out-weighing need or even “want”. Sure it’s significant to think about individual behavior and its impact on the environment, other people, etc. but its difficult to think about how much the scale changes on the commercial level. And the NY Times article appeals to what may be the most effective, timely argument against this practice. People are struggling economically, and the benefits of providing someone with clothes for job interviews, for sending the kids to school,  etc. are harder to ignore than during times of economic windfall.

H & M, and clothing stores in general, are hardly the only companies to indulge in this type of exercise, but it is telling how separated consumption and economy are from community.


So, a follow-up article has been posted to the times, where an New York H & M spokeswoman firsts distanced the company from the discovery, saying it is not common practice (this seems to be the  PR way to deal with these things, feign ignorance and uncouthly leave a targeted store  location high and dry), and from now on, unused clothing would instead be donated. Walmart made a similar statement regarding a New York store also engaging in the discardment of unused clothing.


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