corporate citizenship

H&M, Wal-Mart Slash And Dump Unsold Clothing On NYC Streets

Posted by Sara Zucker on January 7, 2010 12:16 PM

H&M is embroiled in controversy after a CUNY graduate student discovered bags of new -- yet intentionally ruined -- clothing outside of a Manhattan location. And the chain isn't alone. A block away, Wal-Mart committed the same transgression.

The New York Times reported the incidents and what the brands had to say in reaction.

Nicole Christie, a spokeswoman for H&M's New York locations, said the brand's protocol was to donate unsold clothing to charities, despite past concerns about how those donations may complicate return policies.

"One charitable program, the New York Clothing Bank, was set up by the city when Edward I. Koch was mayor to accept unworn clothing and to protect the retailers from people who might use the donations to get store credit or undercut sales."

Ironically, around the corner from H&M's Herald Square store is a collection station for New York Cares, a foundation that hosts a yearly coat drive. The Sweden-based fast fashion chain also employs “an executive in charge of corporate responsibility who leads the company’s sustainability efforts.”

Wal-Mart didn't fare any better, as the same student discovered hundreds of unsold sale items trashed outside only a week before Christmas. A spokesperson for Wal-Mart was “unable to learn why new clothing with the store’s tags had been destroyed,” despite the company's policies and commitment to donating and recycling.

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