A popular children’s clothing company has come under fire for allegedly destroying unsold merchandise.
Natasha McKenna took to social media to express her anger with Carter’s Oshkosh after coming across garbage bags full of children’s clothing and toys outside Dufferin Mall, a shopping centre in Toronto. According to McKenna, the merchandise, including clothes, shoes and decor, had been tampered with and thrown out as garbage instead of donated or recycled.
“They weren’t just thrown out, they were destroyed so they couldn’t be used by anyone,” McKenna wrote. “I’d heard of this practice in retail and fast fashion and it made me sick as I dug through the bags by the Dufferin Mall to find sliced shoes, smashed picture frames, cut up onesies and ripped up snow-pants and gloves.”
Was so disappointed to walk by garbage bags yesterday full of brand new baby and children's clothes, toys, shoes and...Posted by Natasha McKenna on Tuesday, January 7, 2020
McKenna called the disposal “an incredible waste,” condemning the company for not donating their unsold merchandise to children and families in need.
Destroying unsold merchandise is a little-known practice by the fast fashion industry, which has a massive impact on the environment. According to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the fashion sector produces approximately 10 per cent of global carbon emissions (more than international flights and maritime shipping), and 20 per cent of global wastewater.
While companies are producing more clothing, they are also destroying or burning more product than ever before; almost 85 per cent of textiles produced each year end up in the dumpster. Experts believe that at least one truckload of textiles is either burned or emptied into landfills every second. In 2018, Burberry announced an end to destroying unsold merchandise after receiving backlash from investors for getting rid of US$38 million worth of product.
“It’s business practices like this that tells you this company cares more about profits than the children and families [that] they market to,” she wrote. “They don’t care about kids and they don’t care about the [kind of] environment kids will inherit by sending these clothes from the rack to the landfill.”
As an alternative to waste, some clothing brands have agreed to scale back production, donate or shred clothing, which can be used as insulation or repurposed as new fibres. However, many are taking the easy (and cheap) way out and simply destroying excess product.
“Join me in telling Carter’s how disappointing and gross it is to throw away and destroy brand new kids clothes. If you shop there, think twice about walking through their doors and shopping online until they stop this,” McKenna urged Facebook users, adding that they should enquire with other retailers how they dispose of excess product. “This is unacceptable.”
In a statement to Yahoo Canada, Carter’s maintained that their policy is to donate goods when possible.
“Our policy is to donate unsold products to local and national charity partners. It’s a partnership we are honoured to support – donating tens of millions of dollars’ worth of unsold product over the last five years,” the statement read. “After speaking with our store in Canada, we confirmed that these items had been damaged and were, unfortunately, unusable and unable to be donated.”
McKenna’s post generated more than 9,000 shares on Facebook, with many echoing her disgust.
“I will never shop there again,” one Facebook user wrote. “I have heard years ago that this is a practice at retail stores but I had no idea that anyone was still doing this considering the environmental crisis we're in.”
McKenna shared a screenshot of a conversation with an anonymous Carter’s employee, who confirmed that the retailer frequently destroys merchandise.
“Employees are instructed to cut up items that are returned damaged or is somehow damaged on the floor,” the employee wrote. “If an item is shipped in damaged, it gets sent back, but if someone rings back a snowsuit with a coat that the zipper ‘sticks’ it is cut up! It’s absolutely insane how many children don’t have coats or mitts but Carter’s is willing to cut up these cold weather necessities when they can easily be repaired. Employees and management [have] argued for a change many, many times but they simply do not care.”