The Blogosphere Lights Up: Reports that H&M Discards Clothes

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Pictured: A recessionary story, the photo from The New York Times article on H&M’s habit of discarding clothing. Cynthia Magnus holds up a shirt with a hole cut in it. Picture by Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Social networks and blogs are on fire today over an article from uber reputable source The New York Times that H&M in Manhattan discards bags of clothing in the dead of winter. And there’s more. The article reports that H&M workers were told to “mutilate” the clothing so that it couldn’t be used or worn. It didn’t take long for the flames to ignite. What a waste, right? There are people freezing in this world without coats, or good clothing. Homeless people could have benefited and the store would’ve received a tax right off. The Frugalista and Huffington Post called H&M out on The NY Times article. Kudos to student Cynthia Magnus, who discovered the practice and was appalled by the waste. She is extensively quoted in the NY Times article.

This afternoon, H&M responded with a statement on their Facebook page. Here is that statement:
“H &M is committed to taking responsibility for how our operations affect both people and the environment. Our policy is to donate any damaged usable garments to charity. We’re currently investigating an incident in a NY store that is not representative of our policy. We will follow with more information as soon as we are able. H&M’s US sales operation donates thousands of garments each year through Gifts In Kind International.

Other Facebook users are responding with comments of their own. Says one user to H&M via Facebook, I know 2 people who worked at your 34th Herald Square store in 2003 and your Soho (Broadway near Prince) store in 2004 and they saw clothing destroyed at both locations and was told then it was “policy.” How could it happen for 7 + years and you not know? Wouldn’t you wonder corporately – where all the clothes are? How could you not wonder that now?”

My hope is that H&M will investigate this and stop the “alleged” practice of discarding clothes. After reading the comments from The Frugalista, it appears other retailers engage in the practice of destroying clothing and goods that don’t sell, damaging them so that others can’t profit from reselling them. Maybe the “Great Recession” and the loud voice of The New York Times plus Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere can bring about some social change here. Social networking, social change, they do kind of go together right? 🙂 The phone no longer just rings off the hook at the corporate public relations office. Now the Internet lights up too with thousands of posts and instant messages. Talk about pressure to behave responsibly.

In an effort to squelch the public outcry, a further H&M statement has been released. Here is the statement from the AP wire: clothing retailer H&M has promised to stop destroying new merchandise that it can’t sell at one of its Manhattan stores. The chain said it will instead donate the garments to charity. H&M spokeswoman Nicole Christie said, “It will not happen again.” Christie said she didn’t know why the store was mutilating and discarding clothing. She said the Sweden-based company would make sure none of its other stores were doing so.


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.