H&M & Walmart Trashing Unsold Clothes That Could be Donated to Charity

by , 01/07/10

sustainable design, green design, walmart, h&m, clothing waste

We just came upon some news that got us boiling mad – according to the New York Times, H&M and Walmart have been using box cutters and other sharp objects to slash and mutilate their unsold clothing stock (including brand new coats, jackets and shoes) to ribbons before stuffing it into trash bags and kicking it to the curb. If the Manhattan retailers’ wasteful behavior breaks your heart, imagine what it must feel like to hear about it as one of the New York City’s 16,000 homeless people desperately in need of a coat to keep them warm this winter. Why go through all of the trouble to destroy these perfectly wearable clothes when there are tons of people who could use them (literally right in front of the storefronts) and plenty of places that are more than willing to help organize and distribute them? The stores may have a business-oriented reason for this heinous practice but we’re having a lot of trouble swallowing it as an excuse for such senseless waste.


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  1. M_Tanuan April 20, 2010 at 10:11 am

    To Mr. Madmilker,

    Though only done my first year of university I can tell you that closing yourself off from the global economy, for America, is not a good idea by only purchasing Made in U.S.A. goods. I am not a supporter of Wallmart nor do I work there however I would like to get some ideas across.
    The global economy was created so that countries who will participate in it, will be “business partners” thus not wanting to attack your own customer, in a simplified sense. This happened after WWII when the effects of Hitler and whoever were the bad people are at the time.
    China is in a embrace with the U.S.A. because this started a while ago. However, without U.S.A. getting better, China really doesn’t have a “large” customer who will buy their crap. If China does buy America’s debt, it won’t be worth much if America crumbles. If U.S.A becomes a weak economy, their currency should also reflect that thus China doesn’t want to really do that or else the system in improving China flattens also.
    It is not fair to nag on Wallmart for everything. The problem is the mindset of people. It seems that we wish for everything on a silver platter in the (western countries), that included in some of our jobs. U.S.A., Canada, the EU etc… they are countries which are not as competitive when it comes to goods, but can do Technology, Information, Knowledge economy etc… if they stay ahead of the curve. But the problem is are they willing or able to constantly upgrade themselves and such.
    Another issue may lie in the way that politics and such play out in different countries. Some are really into trying to please those who are in “power” at the moment rather than looking out for what is right. As you have mentioned maybe George Bush?
    In conclusion, it is not a good idea to close yourself off from all the countries by attempting to have mega stores change their sourcing. The problem is simply larger than life, more complicated to solve in this comment section. What I can gather is that, in this day and age, we must be interdependent with the economy around us because that was why it was created. It will have its up’s and downs due to it being still new. The “people” need to have faith in it, or else it will fail and a war, a real war may start.


  2. RichMack January 18, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    15 Cargo ships pollute asmuch as 760 million autos? Where are you getting your facts.

  3. madmilker January 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Maybe since my comments are awaiting moderation…..you could take the time and go to Wal*Mart’s China Web page and read tis quote…..

    “Wal-Mart firmly believes in local procurement. We recognize that by purchasing quality products, we can generate more job opportunities, support local manufacturing and boost economic development. Over 95% of the merchandise in our stores in China is sourced locally. We have established partnerships with nearly 20,000 suppliers in China.”

    Now! if there be 182 country’s making items for the world to buy and they have only 5% of the pie in China…duh! This company makes the nice people of China support their currency(yuan) by keeping it in their country working for the people there…. but with the “yuan” going up in value and the US dollar going down…all the foreign items that the American consumer buys thinking it is cheap has went up in price.

    People…its all about the currency and to keep a currency strong you got to keep it floating around the country you live in so it can work for you. For the past 12 years all them US dollars are being shipped overseas to a foreign bank and with the American worker not making anything for the foreigner to buy the “we the people” have to turn to the “second” largest employer in America(Uncle Sam) to sell “we the people” debt in order to get all them dollars back!

    50 years ago a foreigner would had given their left nut for a US dollar or a Hershey’s chocolate bar and today the same foreigner has got Uncle Sam and the American consumer by both all the while Hershey is moving the chocolate factory to Mexico. Wake up! America and think “MADE IN AMERICA.”

    quote*”Considering that there are over 30,000 ships at sea this morning,” writes James Carlton, director of the Williams College-Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program, in an e-mail, “the total number of organisms and species in this global ‘bioflow’ on the morning your readers read your piece could be staggering – billions of individuals, and thousands of species.”

    Indeed, scientists have long considered ballast water the primary way invasive aquatic organisms are introduced. From the zebra mussel’s arrival in the Great Lakes, to an American jellyfish severely disrupting Black Sea fisheries, the potential costs of accidental introduction of a species to new homes can be tremendous. Aquatic invasives cost the US $9 billion yearly, according to estimates by David Pimentel, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Zebra and quagga mussels (a cousin to the zebra) alone cost the $1 billion annually.*end quote!

    tat is $9 billion a year in hidden taxes to all Americans…
    cheap ain’t chic and it cost America…………jobs!


    now! if by chance tis one never gets to the readers eyes on your site….think for a moment bout those 15 cargo ships tat pollute as much as 760 MILLION AUTOMOBILES….

    and tat deal tat Mexico, China, Wal*Mart and tat container company made on tat port in Mexico back in 2006……

    and if tat doesn’t strike a nerve……….

    “It is the aim of good government to stimulate production, of bad government to encourage consumption.” – Jean Baptiste Say, French economist 1767-1832

    “It is harder to conceal ignorance than to acquire knowledge.” -Arnold H. Glasow

    “Life is tough; it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” – John Wayne

    Have a great day and God Bless!

  4. L_Lopez January 8, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    My name is Lorenzo Lopez and I work in Walmart’s communications department. I thought it was important to respond to a post regarding Walmart apparel found in NYC.

    Recently, we were informed that several bags of samples were found on 35th Street in Manhattan, left by a supplier without our knowledge . This action was not in compliance with the Walmart apparel office’s long-standing practice of donating all wearable samples to an extensive array of local charitable organizations, many of which have benefited tremendously. Merchandise deemed unwearable is sent to a recycling center. We are taking immediate action to reiterate, underscore and communicate this practice to all apparel suppliers to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

    As we work towards our goal of sending zero waste to landfills, we’re focused on three “Rs” – reduce, reuse and recycle. Our food donation program grew out of this focus and has provided more than 100 million pounds of food to U.S. food banks this year alone. Similarly, the samples donated from our apparel office and our apparel suppliers are benefiting the organizations and people who need them most.

  5. madmilker January 8, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Remember what Lance Winslow wrote in tat article “The Flow of Trade in a Global Economy”….dang! better yet…jus take the time and read tis ….”Now let us look at Wal-Mart again; you buy a product there, 6% goes to the employees, 10-18% is profit to the company, 25% goes to other costs and 50% goes to re-stock or the cost of goods sold. Of the 50% about 20-25% goes to China, a guess, but you get the point. Now then, how long will it take at 433 Billion dollars at year for China to have all of our money, leaving no money flow for us to circulate? At a 17 Trillion dollar economy less than 40-years minus the 1/6 they buy from us. Some say that if we keep putting money into our economy, it would take forever, but if we do not then eventually all the money flow will go. If China buys our debt then eventually they own us, no need to worry about a war, they are buying America, due in part to our own mismanaged trade, so whose fault is that? Not necessarily China, as they are doing what’s in the best interests, and we should make sure that trade is not only free, but fair too.”

    Also, think for a moment about George Washington….yes the man tat is on the US dollar bill…. “Washington had been reelected unanimously in 1792. His decision not to seek a third term established a tradition that is now embedded in the 22d Amendment of the Constitution.

    Take the time to read his farewell address after only eight years of serving his country and than ask yourself tis….How do you think George feels being sent overseas in return for all tat foreign so-call cheap items and being left in a foreign bank because the American worker doesn’t make anythig for the foreigners to buy. Cheap items didn’t make tis great union of 57…oops! 50 states the greatest place on the face of tis Earth…..the American worker (union and non-union) did.

    You can’t have a strong country without having a strong currency and you can’t have a strong currency unless you keep it floating around within your 50 states. Tis is why the store with the star in the name puts 95% China made items in their stores in China….to keep their “yuan” in their country helping the nice people there. And with only 5% left for all the other 182 country’s tat make stuff including the United States of America….tat doesn’t produce very many jobs outside of China.

    Being an old person myself and knowing how it wus back in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in tis union of 50 states….I look at George each time I pull him out of my billfold and make a promise to send him out for items made in America so after floating around helping each hand he touches jus maybe one day he will shake mine again.

    oh! and think about those 15 cargo ships tat pollute as much as 760 million automobiles and tat deal tat China, Mexico, Wal*Mart and tat container company made on tat Port in Mexico a few years ago…and remember tis…Sam Walton didn’t take tat squiggly line not of Wal-Mart and have it replace with tat big single star nor did he move their Global Procurement Offices to Hong Kong and than to China.

  6. keithintampa January 7, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I have been told that there is an aftermarket for rag cloth, but that doesn’t excuse the sheer wastefulness of destroying a finished product. There are thrift outlets ans second-sellers that could take them (they usually remove labels, etc.) for at least as much as it costs to destroy them.

  7. Aestuo January 7, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    This is not an uncommon practice; I have worked in various grades of retail (from mid-low to higher end) and this is the standard practice. It’s unfortunate, but everywhere from boutique clothing stores to a department store I worked in do it. It would be nice if it could be stopped, and if companies gave unsold/written off clothes to homeless shelters or women’s shelters, they would have some nice tax breaks too and it would be a win for everyone.

  8. G. Hall January 7, 2010 at 10:32 am

    H&M has vowed to put an end to this, according to an article in the New York Times.

    H&M spokesperson Nicole Christie said H&M’s policy is to donate the clothing to charitable groups and that she did not know why the 34th Street store was destroying the clothing.

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