Trashing Clothes Instead Of Donating Them

Nothing makes me more mad than needless waste. Be it food, be it transportation, be it time: if it is waste, I hate it.

An increasingly frustrating world of waste is fashion, an industry of creating clothing that teeters toward the useless. Believe me: I love beautiful things, I live for creative designs, but I loathe the ever widening footprint of this industry, this business, this entity that is swallowing resources just to shit them out into landfills. It’s the sort of industry that is holding activist signs with one hand – Fighting for equal rights! Making politics known! Addressing climate change! – while shoving it’s garbage ideologies into a corner that they think we do not see.

Thanks to a brilliant, eyeopening, infuriating story from The Outline, some of the fashion industry’s more unsavory behaviors have come to light: destroying unsold and unused merchandise instead of donating it to those in need. This is the kind of fucking waste that makes my blood boil.

According to the story, stores like Urban Outfitters (Ew.) and Eddie Bauer (Ew.) to brands like Michael Kors (Ugh.) and Henri Bendel (Ugh.) routinely practice destroying items that aren’t doing well. Why is this happening? The story explains.

In a 2010 Slate post, fashion journalist Erika Kawalek claimed she knew of a “VERY high-up and profitable” fashion label that “sent two million dollars worth of clothing and purses to the shredder” rather than donating the goods, lest its wares end up on the unwashed masses “or in some unsightly discount bin.” Even fast-fashion retailers like H&M were worried that donating unsold clothing would undercut their business — why pay full price for an H&M shirt if you can just get one at a thrift store? Other brands were concerned that people would buy clothing at steep discounts at thrift stores and then attempt to return them for full-price in the store.

Like. I “get” that but also: don’t make as many clothes. And, if it’s a loss, it’s a loss. Mark up the merchandise in another way and give them away.

It’s infuriating. As the state and city I live in seems to melt away, problems like this loom large in the mind. I love clothing. I love fashion. I love putting together outfits and helping others have fun with clothing. That’s a part of my being. But it’s stories like this and the resounding chorus of Western waste that really has made the idea of buying any new clothing item absolutely repulsive. Why participate in this economy of destruction when you can get something used, unique, and unassociated with this drama? That, I can get behind.

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