Order a load of stuff in different sizes, try it all on, keep one and send the rest back for free. Pretty sweet deal, right? Everything you try on and send back will get cleaned and put back up on their shop, right? So what happens to free returns?


Free returns have become a big part of online shopping over recent years. Amazon was one of the first as it pushed its online clothing and looked to alleviate customer concerns about items not fitting or not meeting expectations. Amazon’s push led to the others having to take a similar line as they all fought over your online shopping loyalty. What happens to free returns?

It is a case of Out of sight, out of mind.

This came as a shock to me too as I hadn’t considered that as an option.

We all have busy lives and can’t focus on every single nut and bolt off every decision we make. How would we get anything done?….or….It’s not our job to police these corporations. They should do the right thing anyway….or….If I didn’t know it was happening, I’m not part of it….

The environmental impact of apparel returns

We have been researching textile waste and the journey that takes. It was a Ted Talk by Aparna Mehta from 2018 that caught our attention. 




Aparna Mehta – TED Talk

How many online shopping purchases are we making, with multiple items being ordered, and how many items are getting sent back? 

The sheer scale of online returns is only going to increase with the turnaround in sales. The margins they work to and the systems they have in place makes it easier (and cheaper) just to destroy.

Destroying unsold stock

Burberry was caught burning £28million of stock, trying to protect the exclusivity of the brand and H&M was caught burning around 15 tonnes of stock deemed not in good enough condition to be recycled.

They are not the only ones. You can add Louis Vuitton, Nike, Urban Outfitters….the list goes on.

We need to find a way to buy less online, less impulse buys, less bulk buying for ‘try-ons’, less sending back without any thought of the consequences. A large part of the problem is that clothes don’t actually fit us. The size ranges differ from brand to brand.  Long arms, short body. Short arms, short body. Wide hips, long legs. Narrow hips, short legs.

We never buy a fit

The items we keep are an ‘almost’ fit.  

Shouldn’t we expect better of ourselves, for ourselves.

Isn’t it better to have a ‘perfect’ fit?

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