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H&M, Wal-Mart Destroy Unsold Clothing

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UPDATE 1/7: H&M has promised to stop trashing unsold clothes. Wal-Mart...?

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Amid the recession and the cold winter months, Cynthia Magnus made a shocking discovery at the H&M in Manhattan's Herald Square. It wasn't a sale on the season's hottest trends--it was garbage bags upon garbage bags of unsold merchandise, most of it slashed with razors to ensure that no one would ever wear or sell it, the New York Times reports.

"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.

And right around the corner from this particular H&M is a popular collection point for New York Cares' coat drive. The organization's spokeswoman Colleen Farrell told the Times, "We'd be glad to take unworn coats, and companies often send them to us."

While H&M's destroy-and-discard policy is a missed opportunity in this time of need, the fast fashion retailer isn't the only one to practice these extreme measures. Magnus also found bags full of clothes priced with Wal-Mart tags, and each item had a hole punched through it.

Melissa Hill, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart told the Times that the company typically donates its unsold pieces to charity and would investigate why those bags were discarded.

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