The dumpster diving corner of TikTok is certainly a fun one — and a recent TikTok about slashed Coach bags found in dumpsters went so viral, that it actually prompted Coach to pledge to quit the wasteful practice of destroying unsold merchandise. Stores commonly do this rather than discount or donate unsold items, either because they simply do not have the space to keep it on store shelves, or, especially in the case of name brands, in order to keep their products inaccessible to people who cannot afford full prices.
This story is a great example of the power individuals have to create meaningful change — so don’t let anyone tell you that your choices can’t make a difference. Keep reading for the full story.
A dumpster diver called out Coach for slashing unsold bags.
Anna Sacks, better known as The Trash Walker, is a New York City-based activist and content creator. She often shares hauls of the items she finds when dumpster diving, and these videos are always equal parts entertaining and appalling. Witnessing businesses throwing away and destroying perfectly good products, from food to luxury goods, is unconscionable in a world where so many people are in need.
But in a TikTok posted on Oct. 9, which has 2.5 million views as of five days later, Sacks shared her first “unboxing,” which was a haul of leather Coach purses and shoes that she purchased from Dumpster Diving Mama. “As you can see, they’re all slashed, which is Coach’s policy,” Sacks tells the camera, while showing off item after item, each of which has been sliced, rendering them all unusable.
“This is what they do with unwanted merchandise. They order an employee to deliberately slash it so no one can use it,” she continues in the video. “And then they write it off as a tax write off, under the same tax loophole as if it were accidentally destroyed.”
In a followup post on Instagram, Sacks likens this practice to tax fraud or burning down one's own home to claim the insurance money. She is calling on the IRS and Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate companies who do this.
In the TikTok, Sacks then goes on to note that Coach has various sustainability claims on its website, and that the luxury brand even has a repair program for Coach bags. “Don’t ditch it, repair it — it’s another small thing we can do to keep bags out of the landfill and reduce our impact on the planet,” Coach’s website reads.
As part of the repair program, Customers can get bags repaired by walking into any Coach store. Sacks says she plans to do so, to see if the employees will fix these items that the company apparently destroyed.
Coach has promised to stop destroying damaged merchandise.
A few days after Sacks’ video went viral, Coach actually responded — and stated that the company has “now ceased destroying in-store returns of damaged and unsalable goods,” according to an Oct. 12 Instagram post. Instead, Coach says it is now planning to reuse unsold merchandise as part of its circularity programs, such as Coach (Re)Loved, which sells vintage Coach pieces.
“We always strive to do better and we are committed to leading with purpose and embracing our responsibility as a global fashion brand to effect real and lasting change for our industry,” the post added.
It's important to note that Coach specializes in leather items. Leather is a notoriously unsustainable material, due to the high methane emissions and other waste produced when raising cattle for leather, the chemicals used in the leather tanning process, and more. Fortunately, many companies are innovating plant-based leathers out of unique materials; plus, eco-conscious and vegan customers can always find leather bags at thrift stores — so long as the stores don't trash them before they are sold.
While it will be difficult to see if Coach upholds its promise, it’s pretty incredible that one viral video actually inspired a company as big as Coach to respond, and more importantly, take action. So keep making TikToks, kids — and dumpster dive responsibly.