What happens to clothes when they are returned?
In this article we will be discussing the lifecycle of clothes that do not it make from the shop to our wardrobes. Where do our returned clothes go? Back on sale, back to the warehouse? Let's find out...
Free next day delivery... free returns. It is easier than ever to buy online which comes with its own set of pro's and con's. Convenience being a big upside, especially during the pandemic when brick and mortar shopping wasn't possible. However, a downfall of online shopping means the volume of returns is astronomical because you're buying blind. Unless you know exactly your size or fit... how do you know that what you're buying is going to be right for you? Resulting in a sharp rise from the usual 17% of purchases that are returned.
The truth of this matter is what most brands don't want you to know. Whilst you're buying and returning to multiple fast fashion brands, you may not realise the crippling effect this is having on the environment. After these garments have been shipped out to you and back (potentially a trip across a whole country or more) the product more than likely won't even make it back onto the shelf. Despite the fact that unless there is a manufacturing fault with the item, retailers will not accept the item back unless it is in a saleable condition. Why is this enforced if these brands know the item will never be sold again?
Best case scenario, your returned clothes end up going into a clearance sale or sit in the warehouse until they are out of season. However, in most cases these returns take a clear pathway to landfills. Creating a massive carbon footprint that most shoppers don't realise. It is anticipated that each year 5 billion pounds of waste is generated through returned clothing, fuelling 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air.
It is also common for brands to destroy apparel that gets returned instead of sending it straight to a landfill. This is common for brands that don't want their garments falling into the hands of discounted retailers that might damage the reputation of the company, this is more likely in luxury brands than fast fashion... but it still happens. Burberry have admitted that returned garments and stock that doesn't sell were actually burned! Can you believe that... H&M have stated multiple times saying that they have burned 15 million tonnes of clothing because they weren't in a fit condition to be recycled. Such a waste and a shame to create an unnecessary environmental impact.
Consumers need to take notice of this and analyse their own buying habits with this new information in mind. Instead of buying 5 items with the idea of sending all but one back... think about what will happen to the items you send back. These brands need to be held to a higher standard, just because it will cost more to do the right thing doesn't mean these companies should take the cheaper route out. The damage that returned clothing is doing to the environment is only going to get worse in years to come with the rise of e-commerce shopping unless the brands doing the damage take responsibility and find a solution.
You'll be glad to know that Aequem.com is responsible with all returns! Any returned garments in a saleable condition are resold to prevent any negative environmental impact and our returns rate is much much lower than the industry average because we have very happy customers!
Aequem Gang xo