H&M want your old clothes

H&M Announces Global Recycling Program for February 2013

H&M has come under fire in the past for its fast-fashion approach to “disposable” clothing, but starting next year, the chain is hoping to counter some of those accusations with a new scheme designed to lower the environmental impact of its garments.

From February 2013, shoppers at selected stores will be able to exchange their old clothes for H&M discounts, in a garment collecting scheme being run in partnership with  with recycling company I:Collect. Under the new scheme, the clothing collected will be taken to a sorting facility for recycling, while the person who donated it gets to enjoy discounted shopping at H&M. The chain says it will accept any brand of clothing, in any condition, so you don’t have to be an existing H&M shopper to participate – all you have to do is take them some of your old clothes.

H&M say:

“Every year, tons of textiles are thrown out with domestic waste, and end up in landfills. Over 95% of these clothes could be used again; re-worn, reused or recycled – depending on the state of the garment. Through its Conscious Foundation, H&M has made it its mission to reduce the environmental impact of garments throughout the lifecycle by closing the loop on textile fiber and supporting social projects along H&M’s value chain. The aim is to find long-term technical solutions to reuse and recycle textile fibers on a larger scale.”

Of course, you could argue that as consumers are still being encourage to buy MORE clothes, the problem isn’t exactly being solved, but in the case of clothes too old or worn to be donated to charity, say, this seems like a better option than simply throwing them away.

What do you think of the new scheme?


  • December 10, 2012


    What I think will ultimately depend on what they do with the clothes. If they dissolve the polyester for re-spinning or shred up cotton to make insulation mats for whatever, it’s probably ok. But many, many old clothes end up in third world countries were they are sold for profit, yet at a price with wich the local textile production cannot compete, thereby destroying these small manufacturies, taylor workshops or whatever they are.

    I give old clothes only to such charities which use them to cloth the (literally!) naked orphans in eastern Europe, use them to help flood victims or generally do not sell them, but give them away to people who can not buy their own clothes.

    H&M will be under scrutiny; they need to be very open with their recycling project if they do not want to be accused of engaging in window dressing.

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  • December 10, 2012


    I would only add to Claudia’s excellent analysis that H&M has a moral duty to make sure those clothes do not wind up as some upcycled travesty on Etsy. For the love of humanity, people.

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