Friday, January 8, 2010


I know. I'm not someone who generally shares a platform, but I saw this on Bronwyn’s blog and flipped my lid. HOLY SHIT! Pissed doesn’t begin to describe my thoughts on this.

"(LINK)This week the New York Times reported a disheartening story about two of the largest retail chains. You see, instead of taking unsold items to sample sales or donating them to people in need, H&M and Wal-Mart have been throwing them out in giant trash bags. And in the case that someone may stumble on these bags and try to keep or re-sell the items, these companies have gone ahead and slashed up garments, cut off the sleeves of coats, and sliced holes in shoes so they are unwearable.

This unsettling discovery was made by graduate student Cynthia Magnus outside the back entrance of H&M on 35th street in New York City. Just a few doors down, she also found hundreds of Wal-Mart tagged items with holes made in them that were dumped by a contractor. On December 7, she spotted 20 bags of clothing outside of H&M including, "gloves with the fingers cut off, warm socks, cute patent leather Mary Jane school shoes, maybe for fourth graders, with the instep cut up with a scissor, men’s jackets, slashed across the body and the arms. The puffy fiber fill was coming out in big white cotton balls.”

The New York Times points out that one-third of the city's population is poor, which makes this behavior not only wasteful and sad, but downright irresponsible. Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Melissa Hill, acted surprised that these items were found, claiming they typically donate all unworn merchandise to charity. When reporters went around the corner from H&M to a collections drop-off for charity organization New York Cares, spokesperson Colleen Farrell said, “We’d be glad to take unworn coats, and companies often send them to us."

After several days of no response from H&M, the company made a statement today, promising to stop destroying the garments at the midtown Manhattan location. They said they will donate the items to charity. H&M spokeswoman Nicole Christie said, "It will not happen again," and that the company would make sure none of the other locations would do so either. Hopefully that's the final word. [NY Times][Huff Post]"


Valerie O. said...

Having worked for Wal-Mart I can say that this might have happened at THAT store, but the three branches that I worked at over the course of 7 years did not dispose of unsold clothes this way. Even clothing that was "damaged" (had a small stain, ripped package, part of set missing etc) wasn't thrown away. We had a procedure to remove them from our inventory list them they went to a local Salvation Army type charity that ran a thrift store. I don't understand why this store would do such a thing especially wit shoes. The process for shoes is different in that we had to return them to the regional distribution center for disposal if they were damaged only not if they were unsold. We had Aisles full of shoes on clearance one year because we found 15 cases of spring shoes in October.

Mia Watts said...

This makes me hopeful!

When you sent things back to distribution, is it possible this distruction or burning of mechandise occured from the center? WalMart isn't earning much of a good reputation these days. From benefits to termination policies, I've been more than a little concerned. I'm glad you saw some good, that you were involved with a different pattern. I'm also wondering if your stores, your area were owned separately from a franchise if that's even possible.

J said...

I can't seem to find any outrage over this situation. I mean it's easy to get incensed over the big evil corporation disposing of their profits in a way that we don't approve when they could have a nice tax writeoff by giving them to an NFP.

Personally, I get more incensed about the amount of wasted food that goes on in the average American household (my own included). We overbuy food and when it goes bad, we throw it away. I suppose it's good for the farmers and the economy, and it all goes back into the grand recycling bucket of life, but there's something about our utterly disposable lifestyle that grates on me.

Then there's the amount of gas consumed by the SUVs. I mean, that's a finite resource, and when it's gone, it's gone. Some people need SUVs, but I don't get driving a status symbol. It may seem trite, and I'm not one of those people who goes around marring SUVs to make a point, but if you don't need an SUV for a legitimate reason, save yourself money, and preserve resources, by driving a car that gets decent gas mileage. You don't have to pay $40k for a hybrid, but something reasonable would be... well, reasonable.

And then there's the part of me that says: This is a free country, and people have a right to do with the things they own as they see fit, and none of us should judge others when we have our own issues we could be addressing, instead of pointing the finger. If WalMart wants to ruin coats or throw coats away, that's their business. Its their merchandise. If people want to spend $200/week on groceries and throw $75 away each week when it goes bad or is only partially eaten, again, that is their business. If someone has the money to spend on an SUV and gas money, it's their money, they earn it.

But I find it much more fun to get outraged (particularly about the food thing). It makes me feel morally superior.


mwv: consiate

ErotRomReader (Janna) said...

Hi Mia,
I'm just dropping by to say hello! I'm reading Mindf*cked at the moment and I'm really really loving it so far!! :)
BTW I signed up for Yahoo a few weeks ago, but I can't seem to find the groups you mentioned :( I admit I'm a bit of an oaf sometimes, LOL.
And have you seen the wonderful 4 stars review of She's Got Balls over at Jessewavesreviews? I'm so happy for you! :)

Valerie Oakley said...

All Wal-Marts are Corporate owned, not franchised. I can't even say it was the area because two were almost three hundred miles apart in New York and the third was in Florida. I do have to say that I worked for them until about three and a hhalf years ago when a home injury put me on extensive disability/recovery time, but I can't believe they could or would change their policy that much in three years.

Wal-Mart is always getting trashed by ex-employees I know, but that happens to any job if the employee was let go for being unsatisafctory. The whole health care thing about tem not providing coverage was a crock as far as I was concerned and the whole hiring Illegals to clean ... they contracted an outside company to come in and clean the store. The OTHER company hired illegals and had them working at the store, which was why Wal-Mart had no records of their employment, but the newspapers don't like to print opposing angles on big stories just the sensational ones.