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Old 01-06-2010, 06:18 PM   #1
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The Heartless

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In the bitter cold on Monday night, a man and woman picked apart a pyramid of clear trash bags, the discards of the HM clothing store that reigns in blazing plate-glass glory on 34th Street, just east of Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.

Cynthia Magnus with mutilated clothing she found on West 35th Street last month. She said she was appalled by the waste.

At the back entrance on 35th Street, awaiting trash haulers, were bags of garments that appear to have never been worn. And to make sure that they never would be worn or sold, someone had slashed most of them with box cutters or razors, a familiar sight outside H & M’s back door. The man and woman were there to salvage what had not been destroyed.

He worked quickly, never uttering a word. A bag was opened and eyed, and if it held something of promise, was tossed at the feet of the woman. She said her name was Pepa.

Were the clothes usually cut up before they were thrown out?

“A veces,” she said in Spanish. Sometimes.

She packed up a few items that had escaped the blade — a bright green T-shirt that said “Summer of Surf,” and a dark-blue hoodie in size 12, with a Divided label. The rest was returned to the pyramid.

It is winter. A third of the city is poor. And unworn clothing is being destroyed nightly.

A few doors down on 35th Street, hundreds of garments tagged for sale in Wal-Mart — hoodies and T-shirts and pants — were discovered in trash bags the week before Christmas, apparently dumped by a contractor for Wal-Mart that has space on the block.

Each piece of clothing had holes punched through it by a machine.


They were found by Cynthia Magnus, who attends classes at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York on Fifth Avenue and noticed the piles of discarded clothing as she walked to the subway station in Herald Square. She was aghast at the waste, and dragged some of the bags home to Brooklyn, hoping that someone would be willing to take on the job of patching the clothes and making them wearable.

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Melissa Hill, said the company normally donates all its unworn goods to charities, and would have to investigate why the items found on 35th Street were discarded.

During her walks down 35th Street, Ms. Magnus said, it is more common to find destroyed clothing in the H & M trash. On Dec. 7, during an early cold snap, she said, she saw about 20 bags filled with H & M clothing that had been cut up.

“Gloves with the fingers cut off,” Ms. Magnus said, reciting the inventory of ruined items. “Warm socks. Cute patent leather Mary Jane school shoes, maybe for fourth graders, with the instep cut up with a scissor. Men’s jackets, slashed across the body and the arms. The puffy fiber fill was coming out in big white cotton balls.” The jackets were tagged $59, $79 and $129.

This week, a manager in the H & M store on 34th Street said inquiries about its disposal practices had to be made to its United States headquarters. However, various officials did not respond to 10 inquiries made Tuesday by phone and e-mail.

Directly around the corner from H & M is a big collection point for New York Cares, which conducts an annual coat drive.

“We’d be glad to take unworn coats, and companies often send them to us,” said Colleen Farrell, a spokeswoman for New York Cares.

More than coats were tossed out. “The H & M thing was just ridiculous, not only clothing, but bags and bags of sturdy plastic hangers,” Ms. Magnus said. “I took a dozen of them. A girl can never have enough hangers.”

H & M, which is based in Sweden, has an executive in charge of corporate responsibility who leads the company’s sustainability efforts. On its Web site, H&M reports that to save paper, it has shrunk its shipping labels.

“How about all the solid waste generated by throwing away usable garments and plastic hangers?” Ms. Magnus asked in a letter to the executive, Ingrid Schullstrom. She volunteered to help H & M connect with a charity or agency in New York that could put the unsold items to better use than simply tossing them in the trash. So far, she said, she has gotten no response.

On Monday night, Pepa’s shopping bag held a few items. She pointed to her gray sweatpants. “From here,” she said.

How about coats?

“Maybe tomorrow,” she said.
About New York - Clothes Discarded by H and M in Manhattan Are First Destroyed - NYTimes.com

This has to be one of the saddest articles I've ever read. I can't even begin to imagine the employees who thought it was right to destroy clothes, especially winter clothes, rather than donating them to a shelter.
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:36 PM   #2
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The Society of the Spectacle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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In a consumer society, social life is not about living but about having; the spectacle uses the image to convey what people need and must have. Consequently, social life moves further, leaving a state of 'having' and proceeding into a state of 'appearing;' namely the appearance of the image.[30]

"In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the true is a moment of the false." Thesis 9.

[edit] Comparison between religion and marketing
Debord also draws an equivalence between the role of mass media marketing in the present and the role of religions in the past.[31][32] The spread of Commodity-images by the mass media, produces "waves of enthusiasm for a given product" resulting in "moments of fervent exaltation similar to the ecstasies of the convulsions and miracles of the old religious fetishism".[33][34]

Sad, or in fact precisely what we would expect, predictable, and indeed predicted by Guy Debord?
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Old 01-06-2010, 07:55 PM   #3
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The only reason I can think as to why they would "dispose," rather than "donate," is that none of these brands want their clothes associated with poverty/homelessness. The logic is that the "fashion conscious" would never wear a brand worn by people of a lower status than they perceive themselves to be.

Not a defence on my part; just an explanation.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:01 PM   #4
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My first thought is to burn the store to the ground to help people keep warm.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:29 PM   #5
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This is sick. And I really like H&M's clothes.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:56 PM   #6
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No one should be compelled to give away or donate their property.

I really think homeless people can find clothing at charities, churches (my favorite place) and other social organizations.
If these clothes went out the door undamaged they would end up being sold as new at outlet stores.
That could undermine the ability of the businesses to remain profitable and operational. We certainly don't need anymore people unemployed.
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:12 PM   #7
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Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?

When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?

When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'



~Matthew 25
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:33 PM   #8
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...wow.
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:00 AM   #9
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never knew this about my fav store.

Why not donating?
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:12 AM   #10
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wasnt sure myself if it was to stop any theft of the clothing and selling it all high price, cause never worn.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:13 AM   #11
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The only reason I can think as to why they would "dispose," rather than "donate," is that none of these brands want their clothes associated with poverty/homelessness. The logic is that the "fashion conscious" would never wear a brand worn by people of a lower status than they perceive themselves to be.
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wasnt sure myself if it was to stop any theft of the clothing and selling it all high price, cause never worn.
Wouldn't both of those reasons be negated by the fact that you can buy H&M clothes new from the store for cheap? I've only gone there once but I thought that was their gimmick - cheap clothes.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:23 AM   #12
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oh I dont like their stuff either Lies!
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:33 AM   #13
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I like some of it OK but I guess I never thought of it as really fashion conscious as far as price/quality.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:36 AM   #14
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Im afraid I need a lot of tight 'fitting' clothes and I cant find that in there. of course and can I at all say this gently without being eaten at please??? - I was told they have to cater for, well, bigger-sized teens now because its becoming a prob. I guess for a lot of years, I never saw that.

I mean this respectfully!


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Old 01-07-2010, 10:05 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by deep View Post
No one should be compelled to give away or donate their property.

I really think homeless people can find clothing at charities, churches (my favorite place) and other social organizations.
If these clothes went out the door undamaged they would end up being sold as new at outlet stores.
I wonder why they don't sell them to outlet stores. Clothing is probably easier to come by compared to food for the homeless. A more egregious practice is restaurants throwing away food (e.g. McDonalds) at closing time.
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