Two international retailers, H&M and Wal-Mart, just got a pie in the face of their (stated?) strong Corporate Social Responsibility programs. Today’s news from the New York Times revealed that bags and bags and bags of unsold, post-holiday clothing stock was destroyed before being discarded, ostensibly to prevent it from being re-sold. A saavy business maneuver or ‘ Social Responsibilty: FAIL’?
Items destroyed and discarded represent huge waste (cost) not only to staff time, landfill costs, etc, but to both brands, neither of which needs the outpouring of bashing which has been the result. While costly in terms of wasted resources, this incident represents huge lost opportunity. A well organized initiative to donate these items would have avoided cost and boosted consumer trust in each brand.
These incidents have special resonance for large meetings and events, as well as other businesses. We seem geared to see disposal, rather than planned donation, as the preferred method to clear out exhibition halls, registration desks and store rooms. What meeting planner would not feel remorse if journalists splashed their event on the front page for insensitive, irresponsible waste practices? Why wait for such embarrassment before taking action to integrate a plan to donation usable materials post event?
As part of planning their European Offshore Wind event in Stockholm last fall, EWEA partnered with Majblomman, a Swedish NGO supporting children, to donate congress bags. Similar efforts are being observed by other meeting planners and venues, so the idea is neither new or difficult to understand, just rare in its occurrence.
We’re better than this, people!