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Burberry Stops Barbaric Burning Of Unsold Clothes

It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? With all the waste going on in the world — from tons of perfectly good food being discarded every day to the plastic accumulation at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — the last thing you thought you’d have to worry about was a luxury clothing designer destroying its unsold pieces rather than allowing outlet stores to sell last year’s looks.

Fortunately, it seems the fashion giant is changing its ways: Burberry announced early in September that it would stop the barbaric practice after receiving criticism from environmental groups. The annual report stated that they had destroyed a staggering $34.6 million worth of clothes and other goods within the previous fiscal year.

Apparently, the burning of last season’s styles is common among high-end clothing designers and retailers, so we have to commend Burberry for being one of (if not the) first to make a significant change. Marco Gobbetti, Burberry’s chief executive, seems to understand the significance of the shift in protocol.

“Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible.”

With so many people in need worldwide, wasting high-quality products can be considered a despicable act — you don’t even need to necessarily donate it, the simple act of recycling the materials can have a positive impact. For example, the U.S. recycles around 2 million tons of used clothing every year, and half of that amount is turned into practical items such as industrial rags or is shredded and used as couch stuffing or in home insulation.

And that’s just in America! Internationally, more than 14.3 million tons of American textiles help clothe people and families; imagine what the world would be capable of if everyone donated that much — nobody would ever go cold or have to wear ragged clothes that are literally falling apart at the seams.

You don’t need to be a towering and exclusive clothing brand to do your part. There are many organizations and textile recycling programs that will take the stuff you didn’t even think could be recycled: one company focuses exclusively on used bras, using the proceeds to support women in need.

“Our goal is to ignite a ‘Bra-volution’ to recycle, reuse or repurpose bras while providing substantial social benefits to women and girls escaping domestic violence, drug addiction, human trafficking, and breast cancer survivors,” stated Elaine Birks-Mitchell, the founder of The Bra Recyclers.

Even big businesses are getting in (or have been in) on the recycling action — brands like The North Face and H&M are offering to recycle your old clothing for you, free of charge. Simply call ahead to let them know you’re coming and drop off your stuff, easy-peasy! Nike, though, has always been ahead of the game; they created a shoe recycling program back in the early ’90s called Reuse-A-Shoe which transforms worn athletic shoes into a material (known as Nike Grind) used to create tracks, fields, courts, and playgrounds.

We know that some people get extremely sentimental about their things, clothing included, and may have a tough time donating when they don’t know where their precious pieces will end up. However, gift-giving is a wonderful alternative — it is a personal act of donation that can bring people closer together. Nearly 60% of people believe that giving gifts makes relationships more meaningful, so the next time you realize that you’re never going to wear that dress that’s been sitting on your closet for three years because it’s just a smidge too tight, offer it to your petite friend instead.


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