What on earth happens to all the unpurchased clothing?

By Louis J Ramirez III


What happens to all the unpurchased clothing that is made, but never gets purchased? It must be some type of noble act of repurposing, or perhaps something very humanitarian indeed.

I did a little digging around and to my surprise a very small amount is redistributed in a charitable manner. According to one source, http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/04/02/what-happens-to-all-of-those-clothes-retailers-cant-sell/ , “Major retailers have a couple of options when it comes to getting rid of unsellable clothes: They can either destroy them in industrial-sized shredders and/or dump them in a landfill.” The sheer bulk of garments that go to waste is astounding when you compare it to the amount of those that are purchased. The numbers are estimated at a whopping, “84% of the 11.9 million tons of unwanted clothing a year ending up in landfills,” according to the article at Dailyfinance.com. The thought is maddening, what a tremendous waste of resource! Why is this?

Here is a link of usable clothing being shredded.

The logic behind this is explained as a type of public relations. The designers of the garments just don’t want their clothing to appear on individuals who are deemed unworthy of owning certain designer labels. In addition to this absurd idea, it was said that if a homeless-person was seen wearing a posh label that it would detract from the appeal of the label and affect the desirable nature of the label. Why wouldn’t it be more desirable to see our homeless adorned in fabulous raiment? Is status really the driving force? I guess it is, sadly enough.

Are logistics the cause of too much of a good thing? According to the article found here,   http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/ive-always-wondered/what-do-stores-do-unsold-merchandise-0 , it does have an effect on the nature of our wasteful handling of the goods we produce, especially with items that have expiration dates such as seasonable fashion. The garments don’t really expire the way food does, but the appeal of the fashion shifts and so the desirability of the garment does, too.

I know that clothing is a necessity for most of us, and the allure of textures and patterns that create the need for style choices to be made by us, and will bring us to the retailers and the catalogues who can deliver those styles to us on demand. We must try to ride out this wave of wasteful fashion before we are dashed against the shores of reality by this tidal wave of textile overproduction.