Our Responsibility As Consumers

When it comes to fashion, we’ve made great strides in the past five years. Companies know that we consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact the industry has on the environment; as a result, many have gone to great lengths to lessen their footprint.

But, sometimes they slip through the cracks. And when they do, I believe we have a responsibility to call attention to their wasteful ways. But more on that in a second. First I want to highlight a story that, although it’s few months old, shows exactly what I’m talking about here.

The Wasteful Ways of H&M

Back in January, the New York Times ran a story on H&M. H&M is a giant fashion retailer that sells runway-inspired clothing on the cheap. Think of it as the IKEA of clothing.

What happened is this: Cynthia Magnus, a Graduate student at City University of New York, started noticing bags of clothing tossed out, for the garbage collectors, behind the store. Instead of being donated, this clothing was being damaged so that it was un-saleable and un-wearable, and then getting tossed in the garbage.

The sheer waste infuriated Magnus. She called the store, and then company headquarters, offering to put them in touch with charities that could use the clothing. She got no response, so she went to the New York Times to try and change things.

The exposure in the Times, and the backlash from the public once they read the story, was incredible. The company immediately issued a statement the very next day, saying that they would stop destroying clothing.

Imagine if Magnus had gone on her way and done nothing. Those clothes would still be getting tossed out to the landfill, instead of getting donated like they are now.

It’s Up To Us…

This story is extremely inspiring to me because it illustrates the power one person can have when they effectively leverage information to affect change.

Think of how many things we could change if we simply took action! And I’m not saying that everything would be as simple as calling The New York Times. But I believe that, as consumers, we have more power than we think we do, especially when we speak out.When we take that power and do something with it, when we attempt to right a wrong, we not only empower ourselves but we empower others to do the same. We become a light that others can follow.

So my challenge is this: next time you see a company being wasteful, or not recycling, or doing something that they could easily do to lessen their impact on the earth, say something.

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2 Responses to “Our Responsibility As Consumers”

  1. [...] you regular readers know I’ve written a few times about H&M. I’ve had a beef with this company before (most notably because of the outrageous waste they [...]

  2. [...] beef with them has to do with the time they threw out unsold clothing instead of donating it, and their ultra-low prices on disposable clothing. Today, though, I’m [...]

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