Revelation : Web shops destroy unsold garments, shoes, and accessories.

Major crime detected by Greenpeace who obtained video footage of how Amazon employees throw unsold garments into bins labeled "destroy", in one of the company's warehouses in Germany. There's more...

Hello Friends & Fans !

Another week has gone by, and another week has started! How have you been? I sense a growth in eco-anxiety and I hope you do not feel overwhelmed. It’s normal if you do; I feel overwhelmed every day as the fashion problem is massive and does not seem to get solved as fast as it should be. Keep in mind that I of course will share an uncomfortable truth, but followed with a positive outlook on what is already happening to advance a circular fashion system. There is so much good happening too!

Now, let’s get into this week’s revelation: Web shops destroy unsold garments, shoes, and accessories once the package is returned to the warehouse. This is going to be a long and nerdy one, but I do have a promising theory included that you do not want to skip over ;)

So…This is how your returned items end up being ashes or dirt

The process is simple. Let’s use a jacket to illustrate the steps:

step 1. you order a jacket

step 2. you receive the jacket the next day

step 3. you find out the jacket doesn’t fit your body

step 4. you return the jacket via your local post office

step 5. the web shop receives the jacket back

step 6. the web shop shoves the jacket in a bin labelled “destroy”

step 7. the jacket enters the incinerator

step 8. the jacket is now called ashes

step 9. the web shop and you the consumer have just massively increased your carbon footprint

Companies like Amazon and Zalando have been championing the “free returns” policy for years, but as you and I know, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. If the customer is not paying for the returns, then who is? You guessed it… nature. From a 2016 Quartz report I found this quote (and nothing has changed):

“here’s something you probably didn’t know: Many of those returns aren’t going to make it back into store inventory and onto shelves. Instead, they will rack up a giant carbon footprint as they wind their way through a network of middlemen and resellers and, at each step, a share of those goods will be discarded in landfills.”

Regardless of “sustainability promises”, Amazon was caught red handed by Greenpeace in an undercover operation in one of Amazon’ warehouses in Winsen, Germany, sorting returned clothes for destruction.

When one thinks of Amazon, the term “luxury fashion” does not immediately come to mind, so let’s look at Burberry.

Burberry admits that its unwanted stock is burnt but says it works with specialist incinerators that are able to harness the energy from the process. Luxury brands destroy unwanted products to protect their intellectual property and brand values, according to insiders. Designer labels, it is claimed, do not want their products to be worn by the “wrong people” after emerging on to “grey markets” at knockdown prices.” (Source – TheTimes.co.uk)

Burberry (and H&M and many many other brands) deserves a (slow clap) applause for working “with specialist incinerators that are able to harness the energy from the process”. Alternative ways to harness energy is the sun… Just saying… I don’t think we need energy to come from burned clothes, footwear, and accessories, or do we?! (Then I must be the crazy one if we do.)

If you are interested in “clean” incinerators, I used to live next to one in Copenhagen that was supposedly very promising. Yet, it turned out to be just another example of how organizations “overpromise and underdeliver”, as laid out in this article.

The Verdict

Congratulations Amazon (& friends), you have officially earned a permanent “no buy” badge from me. Although I have never bought any kind of clothes, footwear, or accessories from Amazon, but even the books and tech is not getting a nanosecond of my attention anymore. (Think I can’t do it? Ask H&M & Inditex - have not set foot online nor offline since late 2018 - and that’s looong in a fashionista’s lifespan).

THANK YOU, NEXT.

We will continue buying clothes, footwear and accessories however. How will we be able to wear our values then? Allow me to introduce you to the future of fashion:

WHAT IF… our fashion is compostable !?!

If incinerators and landfills are not going away anytime soon, hey there regulators - step up your game presto please! - then what if the clothes, shoes, and accessories were 100% compostable so they could actually be beneficial for nature?

What I mean by “beneficial for nature” is that a product would return to the environment as a nutrient when buried. Then, out of the soil, a new plant will grow - AKA new life is created. Now this is where I really get excited ( and where my promise for a better future starts kicking in): please allow me to introduce you to what I call:

Compostable Fashion !

Just imagine how your clothes truly come from nature, and safely go back to nature at their end of use. Once the item is clearly worn out and can not be repaired or repurposed anymore, all you have to do is the following:

step 1. locate a place for compost (perhaps your garden?)

step 2. bury said item in the garden

step 3. come back after a few months to discover what new life is growing out of it

Personally, I am 100% fascinated by this. If we bring materials that go into our fashion into a loop of life, then this must be what circular fashion is about, right!?! It has not been done yet as far as I know, and that is exactly why Positive Fibers® is on a mission to turn this vision into a reality.

Thank you for getting to the end of this week’s newsletter. If you enjoyed it and perhaps even learned something, why not invite your friends to get on the list too? I’d also love to know what the learnings are; my inbox is always open for you.

Keep your eyes and ears open. Stay critical. Stay strong against greenwashing.

And please remember this: yes, I am allegedly ruining fashion for everyone, BUT, only to build it back in its best form possible. To get a glimpse of that, you should definitely visit this Instagram page.

Warmly,

the Circular Fashion Detective