Stores destroying clothes instead of donating

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 is just appalling. There is no reason to go to all the trouble to destroy those clothes instead of taking them to a shelter or charity. They could have gained so much goodwill by being these big providers during this bad economy plus horrible cold weather. Now I’ve got another reason to steer clear of these two stores! :mad:

This does not surprise me in the least about Wal-Mart. If it doesn’t mean a buck in their pocket then it’s not worth it to them.


This is a hard one to judge. :frowning:

Giving brand-new clothes away in such large amounts might have crashed the local clothing-sales market. People might have gotten laid off because of it. I know that the large amounts of donated clothes Americans send overseas has pretty much killed off domestic clothing manufacture and sales. They’re walking around in our hand-me-downs now.

An alternative would have been for them to offer them at steep discounts to charities. That way, it wouldn’t have had such a negative effect on the local market.

This is the fruit of planned obsolescence. Fashion dictates that old styles have to go, so retailers trash the brand new clothes rather then store them (which costs money) for later sale or keep them on the racks (risking that consumer’s won’t buy them because consumers are conditioned to demand fresh merchandise and new styles).

If they donated them to Goodwill or another charity, how long would it be before middle class folks realize they can get brand new H&M clothing for rock bottom prices at the charity down the street? I know middle class people who can afford retail clothes that go to Goodwill to save bucks or find some retro clothing. This would kill H&M’s and Walmart’s sales if discovered.

Yeah, planned obsolescence is a tactic I fight in my own home. My husband is a technology junkie and there’s always something bigger and better out there.

It’s a market tactic that’s been fueling our rampant consumerism. My dad just threw out a 5 year-old television to replace it with a new flat-screen LCD display. But it doesn’t actually make any sense. The shelf it’s housed in is the same size (so it’s not reducing clutter), the screen is smaller, the quality of projection is lower, and the running costs are higher. So… why did he do it? Everybody’s got one! You need to get one! It’s so great! New and improved! Hurry, while supplies last!


There is nothing stopping these companies from sending these items out of the country to be used where they don’t have to worry about loosing a buck because some middle class bargain shopper might shop at the thrift store instead of their own store.

During major sporting events like the Superbowl, they will print massive numbers of shirts and hats with BOTH teams, not knowing who will win. The unused items are sent overseas to a location where they can go to good use.


I can totally understand why these stores don’t donate the clothes to Goodwill stores, but why can’t they donate them straight to a homeless shelter where the clothes are GIVEN to truly homeless people who have nothing? That isn’t going to affect their business because those people wouldn’t be in their stores buying anything anyway.

This just makes me so sad. The waste in our culture is completely inexcusable.

This seems like a really good solution. I hope it happens.

Couldn’t they make money (or least minimize their losses) by selling these clothes to any number of bargain outlet stores? :confused: There are several stores in my area that buy out overstocked or slightly irregular name-brand merchandise to resell at low prices. If I were a businessman, that would seem to me to be the way to go. But maybe there’s some more complex fiscal reason I just don’t see. :shrug:

Wow, I’ve always wondered what happened with the shirts and hats that had the other team’s name on them. That’s really good to hear that they are used!

We use to slash clothing in the service as so they wouldn't go to the black market.... The CO would have to sign and inventory the slashed clothing on form we used... On the form was the clothing space so we use to leave a blank space and after the CO signed it add clothing we didn't slash and remove some buttons and donate it a homeless vets center.

Oh I read this story this morning.

Its nothing new. We do it all the time. And the rep for, either Wal-mart or H&M was saying that she was ‘shocked’ and they usually dont throw stuff out.

-Yeah thats because your supposed to completely trash it and put it in the garbage compactor. I bet she was surprised…

I work for (a company LOL) and when I first started it drove me CRAZY! After EVERY holiday we take down all the seasonal items, scan them, credit it back to the account, recycle the plastic trash or whatever,

but the product, which is usually paper- ie, cards, bags, wrappings, bows, scratch paper, books, etc, isnt recycled, we have to box it up, and throw it into the compactor. When I first started I was disgusted! Like, really? Every other month doing that with like, 5k worth of product? First- what a waste of trees, second, my kids in kindergarten…they could totally use the envelopes, scratch paper, stickers…donate that stuff!!

But my boss said thats just the way they do it, always have…someone might take the product from the baled paper stacks somehow and try to sell it. gimme a break…its a total waste.

LOL...yes, I am one of the culprits that has the horrid responsiblity of doing this.

That is only a very small tip of the iceburge. We have many, many, huge companies throwing away so many good things, high end items like electronics and expensive tools still in their original packaging as well. I suspect they get a bigger tax write off if they count them at a loss then they do donating them, that’s the only thing that makes sense. I knew someone that worked for Allied Waste, might want to take a visit there some time if you want to see what’s being thrown away, it would sicken you.

:eek: No wonder some retail employees have few qualms about stealing items from their respective stores. If this is what happens to the products eventually, I can see how, over time, it would lead someone to see stealing it as no big deal.

this just so sad and so wrong. think of the good they would do by giving them to a shelter or somplace that would distribute to the needy (St. Francis of Assissi NYC). if they wanted to ensure they werent resold I think there could be another way of doing this, instead of destroying the entire garment>

Of course there is - but that takes time, effort, and desire. Something that a lot of large corporations don’t care to give.

It is very sad indeed to think that someone would have the opinion that someone can’t have a $2,000 coat for free if they have to pay for it. Don’t consider that the person getting it for free is living in a corrugated metal box and probably has no running water or regular food. :rolleyes:


Well, I had no idea that it went on to this extent. I had heard of bookstores ripping covers off when books go unsold, but books aren’t clothes. And I know grocery stores operate on tiny margins, but even they cooperated with food banks, etc.

I think it is the combination of the clothes being produced by practically slave labor (ie China) and then destroyed at the end of one season. I can understand the concern about the collapse of the clothing market, but from a business pov the fact that so much clothing was ‘leftover’ at the end of the season tells me that the store buyers aren’t doing their jobs. Destroying inventory purchased on credit isn’t going to do the business much good either!

So that explains it!
I work at a shelter fo homeless families and occasionally we get bags of Wal-Mart coats that have been slashed, and/or zippers broken.
Maybe some kind soul sees them thrown out and brings them to us not knowing what W-M has done to them.

While we’re on the subject, some companies are quite good to us while many of the donations we get from individuals are absolute junk.
Rule of thumb: if they drop it at the door and take off, it’s good stuff; if they want a receipt for their taxes you can pretty much take it to the Dumpster without looking.

oh yeah it is to that extent…whatever extent that is… :slight_smile:

its not just clothes, or grocery stores on tiny margins…we are totally a wasteful country…the company i work for does greeting cards, gift bags stuff like that- MAJOR big time conservative lol, well known…put a crown on top of their name…kinda company- and we just throw it all away…

if you think about it, if we didnt waste HALF the **** we do…if we recycled it…if we donated it to schools…

and then if grocery stores donated to food banks…

retail stores to homeless shelters…etc etc…

dude- we’d all be covered…its ridiculous…

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit