It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Fam, friends, good food. Brisk walks through freshly fallen snow with a cup of something hot in your shearling-mittened hand. Memorable nights out and cozy weekends in. Black Friday sales and the festive piles of unsold winter jackets bagged up and awaiting the trash collectors in the alleyways behind big name retail stores.
Wait, what? That last thing’s not a part of your yearly holiday tradition? Then you probably don’t work for Eddie Bauer or the handful of other clothing companies that STILL destroy unsold merchandise like warm coats and blankets instead of donating them to people who need warm things but can’t afford them.
“Imagine a system where you DESTROY excess goods instead of distributing them. This happens while thousands in NYC will sleep on the streets tonight,” tweeted the New York woman who discovered piles of once-warm coats and formerly cozy blankets slashed (and we don’t mean the prices) and binned for trash collection outside the Union Square Eddie Bauer store. The photographic evidence is pretty damning:
Eddie Bauer isn’t alone in the practice of wrecking and trashing unsold but perfectly good clothing that could make a big difference in the lives of people who don’t have the resources to pay retail prices for it. H&M has been accused of the same (they vowed to put a stop to it after being publicly shamed back in 2010), along with Ralph Lauren (who allegedly outsourced JCPenney to do the slashing for them), Nike, and more. Since then, some of these retailers (Nike and H&M among them) have taken steps to make amends by backing global clothing recycling programs that make it easier for consumers to get rid of items they no longer wear. The rubber from your worn-out Nikes is pulverized into a material used in playgrounds. Last year’s embroidered denim from Zara goes to the Red Cross. Even the most threadbare sweater can be turned into a kind of insulation.
And that doesn’t even take into account the simplest solution of all: putting your still-good but I-never-wear-it-anymore items into a bag and taking them to a local shelter, secondhand store, or clothing bank — which is what Eddie Bauer could have done. Like, so easily.
In the US, it’s estimated that there are over half a million people who don’t have homes. Eddie Bauer can’t keep all of them warm, but those coats and blankets could have made a big difference to a few.
What is your favorite place to donate your gently used jackets and clothing to? Let us know on Twitter!
(Image via Brandon Mathis on Unsplash)