The New York Times reported yesterday that massive clothing chain H&M is damaging perfectly good, unworn clothing before throwing it away. From the article:
This week, a manager in the H&M store on 34th Street said inquiries about its disposal practices had to be made to its United States headquarters. However, various officials did not respond to 10 inquiries made Tuesday by phone and e-mail.
My own research finds that H&M claims the following on its website:
What do you do with surplus clothes?
We donate clothes that do not meet H&M’s quality requirements to charity organisations like Oxfam, Caritas, the Red Cross and Terre des Hommes. Each store is itself responsible for clothes that are returned to it. Often there is an agreement that the clothes will be passed on to a suitable local charity organisation. Naturally we never give away clothing that does not comply with our safety requirements and Chemical Restrictions. Such items are destroyed.
Yet, sources told the New York Times that clothing that appears totally safe is throw away nightly, after being made unwearable. This, of course, at a time when–as the article notes–”It is winter. A third of the city is poor.”
Why, you might ask, is this a feminist issue? Because women and children are disproportionately vulnerable in times of recession and disproportionately targeted by advertising aimed to sell clothing from massive corporate conglomerates, because the class disparity in this country can not be cleaved from racism, sexism etc., because our interdependence is undeniable.
If you’re as disgusted with H&M’s behavior as I am, contact them at their New York headquarters: 212-564-9922.