Gap Finds a Very Environmentally Friendly Way of Throwing out Millions of Hangers a Year. It’s a Miracle! Or a Total Load of Crap! You Decide and Have a Little Fun with a Gap Representive Today!

benderSo…in response to my complaint about Old Navy’s 20% bag blitz, Burbarino informed me that they also throw out all of their hangers after one use. Uggggg. So I decided to hear it from the horse’s ass’s mouth….and this is what I gave and what I got:

Dear Gap Associate,
I recently read that you throw out all of your hangers after a single use?
Please tell me this is not true. What are your hanger recycling
Thank you,
[Organic Needle]

Dear Ms. [Needle],
Thank you for your e-mail about our hangers at our Gap Brand Stores. In order
to best assist you, we ask that you please call Gap Customer Relations
at 1-800-GAP-STYLE, option 4, option 4, and then option 2. Our Customer
Relations Specialists are available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9
p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Thank you again for contacting us.


Customer Service Consultant

Hmmmmmm….do you think they don’t want to answer the question or a cyborg answered the email?

So…I called. And you should too because my representative was squirrrrrrrrmmmmmming like a worm on a hook. Here is how it went.

Me: I have a question about your store policy as to hangers. Do you throw them all out after a single use?

Her: I have no specific information about that.

Me: Well, do they get returned to the factory?

Her: Not that I see noted.

Me: Are they recycled?

Her: I have no specific information about that.

Me: Do new clothes come in on new hangers?

Her: Yes…to prevent wrinkles.

Me: Well…where do they all go after the clothes are sold?

Her: We are an environmentally friendly company and I’m sure the store reuses which ones are in reusable condition.

Me: But if all new stuff is coming in on new hangers, what would they be reused for?

Her: Mam…I have no specific information on that.

Me: Is there a way to find out? There must be some sort of official policy.

Her: Not that I can note here. If information becomes available you can check back.

Me: Well, I will assume that they all are thrown out unless told otherwise.

Her Mam…I have no specific information. Gap is an environmentally friendly company.

So your homework for today is to call the numbers above and make your customer service representative veeeeeeery uncomfortable. This hanger practice is ridiculous. If you call and just keep pressing the numbers listed above in the letter it will put you right through to get your own personal run around. Enjoy! If any of you decide to have a little fun and call please comment and let me know how it goes.

25 Responses to “Gap Finds a Very Environmentally Friendly Way of Throwing out Millions of Hangers a Year. It’s a Miracle! Or a Total Load of Crap! You Decide and Have a Little Fun with a Gap Representive Today!”

  1. Added by heather t on April 16th, 2008 at 11:33 am


    Here’s where I potentially get busted for outing myself as blogging about an employer, but Kohl’s reuses their hangers! We reuse them in the store and send the extras back to the distribution centers for re-use.

    The broken ones, unfortunately, tend to get tossed.

  2. Added by organicneedle on April 16th, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Good to know Heather. I am also impressed that they have quite a few baby items in organic cotton. They even had a few adult t-shits, rugs, and other little things. Very cool. Nothing for the ladies…but it’s more extensive than the Gap’s collection.

  3. Added by arduous on April 16th, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Oh man. Okay Orgie. I promise I will do this, but I have to do it when I feel like I can handle the inevitable rise in blood pressure from such a conversation. I’ll let you know how it went….

  4. Added by Erin on April 16th, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    ugh. too long to type out the whole conversation, but I was on the phone with them for 20 minutes. First girl said they don’t throw them away. Then she said she didn’t know. Then she put me on hold for ten minutes while she got her supervisor.

    Supervisor comes on the line and asks me “What is this information being used for?”. To which I reply “so I can determine whether or not I want to spend my hard-earned dollars at your store!”. I get put on hold for another five minutes while she apparently decides if that is or is not a legitimate reason for asking about their hanger policy.

    Long story, long… they have no policy in place and each store decides what to do with their surplus hangers. To which I tell her, I’ll start shopping there again when they create a mandatory reycling policy.

    Then, just to fuck with her, I tell her I’m a reporter with the New York Times and she should look for the article to appear sometime later in the week.

  5. Added by arduous on April 16th, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Oh my god Erin you are devious!

    So my dude assured me that they do reuse the hangers and do not throw them out. I was like, “Oh because I heard you don’t.” And he was like, “No, we definitely reuse them.”

    I didn’t really know what to say after that.

  6. Added by organicneedle on April 16th, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Good work, ladies. The problem with the recycling issue is that many areas do NOT recycle that kind of plastic, like NYC,…so it would have to be a clear reuse policy which would mean sending them back to the factory or have the clothes sent to the store sans hangers and let the employees hang the crap up. (I find it really hard to believe there isn’t a way to pack that stuff so that it doesn’t wrinkle.)

    Arduous…I wonder if your guy was just assuming they do because it is so asinine that they wouldn’t. Or…maybe the stores’ managers he was familiar with actually did something decent. Who knows.

    I am tempted to keep calling everyday to see how many different answers they could provide. Or just to be annoying. 🙂

  7. Added by CindyW on April 17th, 2008 at 12:56 am

    1. Erin, you get major ass-kicking points for messing with them.

    2. These hangers are too damned cheap. If they (or the hanger makers) have to pay for the disposal fee, Gap may think twice before tossing them out. I am all about manufacturers’ take-back responsibilities these days 🙂

    3. After hours and hours of management discussion, if by Miracle Gap decides to reuse/donate the hangers, they will plaster all over the place – Gap goes green. Sure, yeah, whatever.

  8. Added by Melissa on April 17th, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Let me start by saying, I am not trying to rain on anybody’s parade here, and I think it’s great what you’re doing by holding corporations accountable. I too received the plastic bag in the mail from Old Navy, and I guess this is where I admit to how much store plastic I carry, because I cancelled my, ahem, Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic credit cards.

    That said, however, I used to work in retail for a few years. We reused all our hangers, BUT (and this is a biggie) each pair of pants, shirt, etc. would come in its own individual plastic bag. We opened each one and folded or hung it. So we weren’t throwing out hangers, but we were throwing out one plastic bag per article of clothing (the city the store was in has no recycling). I only worked at one store, so I don’t know how others do it, but this was a pretty good company and I doubt they were alone. I’m not mentioning their name only because this was over ten years ago and I’m hoping they’ve changed their policies since. Actually, I’ll call their customer service this afternoon and find out. You inspired me! 🙂

  9. Added by Green Bean on April 17th, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    I love this kind of thing! We absolutely have to pester companies when they do something that like this.

    I called and the associate apologized that I was given “misinformation.” “Gap tries very hard to be green,” she told me, and then said that all plastic hangers are “recycled” (check out CindyW’s post on “downcycling”) or reused depending on the store. Anyone up for calling their local Gap or Old Navy store and finding out the truth?

    The fact that the associate was able to answer my question so quickly shows that we are getting through. Probably after your call or at least by the time Erin called Gap pulled its head out of, ahem, the sand and formulated an answer that would make people happy and may have some small basis in truth.

  10. Added by organicneedle on April 17th, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Melissa…very good point about the plastic bags. I noticed this too about ordering off line rather than buying…no hangers…but the plastic bags.

    Green Bean…You may be on to something about calling local stores. Like I mentioned, NYC does NOT recycle hanger plastic; we only do #1 and #2 bottles. Which means either they reuse them or send them back- pretty cut & dry. Maybe I will have to pull out the ol’ phone book and start annoying store managers. They of all people would have to know where the hangers are going.

  11. Added by Green Bean on April 18th, 2008 at 11:52 am

    According to the two Old Navy stores in San Mateo, California, they throw out the hangers – no hesitation, whatsoever. Anyone up for organizing a campaign to make GAP reuse its hangers? I’d definitely help.

  12. Added by Heather Piper on April 18th, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I called and after 8 minutes of hold muzak (because she said, “Ma’am, gosh, I really do not know the answer to that question!”), she returned and told me that they do *not* recycle their hangers, and they *do* throw them in the garbage.

    She told me that she would send a note to upper management, noting that I would not be shopping at any of their stores until they stopped throwing their hangers in the trash.

  13. Added by arduous on April 19th, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Yeah, you know, I’m not ready to let this die. I feel like we’re getting somewhere. Anyone have ideas? I mean we could start an online petition, but I was thinking … what if we started a campaign to send the Gap headquarters all our hangers? On the one hand, I think, great more hangers that will get thrown out. On the other hand, we might annoy them enough that they come up with a policy?

  14. Added by organicneedle on April 19th, 2008 at 8:58 am

    I’m a tinking, Arduous.

  15. Added by Green Bean on April 19th, 2008 at 10:55 am

    We could model a campaign after what Beth is doing, with an online petition. Gap is headquartered in SF, about 30 minutes from me. I’m not as strong as Beth – not sure I could do it on my own but maybe I can get one of the Organic Picks Cindys (they’re local gals) to go with me and we could deliver our plastic hangers there ala Fake Plastic Fish. We could call the campaign Get It Back into the Gap or Hang it, Gap or something. I think the goal should be reusing hangers and recycling left to broken hangers. Thoughts?

  16. Added by organicneedle on April 19th, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    I like it. We might also want to think about putting the squeeze on them to only use paper bags. They already have them in the store. They would just have to ditch the plastic bags. They could totally do it as a huge PR thing too like WholeFoods did when they switched to paper only since they want to be considered such an environmentally friendly company.

    I also agree about the reuse thing. Does anyone even know what kind of plastic those hangers are made of? I don’t see why they can’t make picking up the hangers when they drop off a new batch of clothes from the distribution center just part of the routine. There wouldn’t even be the need for more trips or gas spent; the trucks have to go back and forth anyway.

  17. Added by arduous on April 19th, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    I called one of the major Old Navy stores here in LA, and yup, they throw the hangers away. Honestly, I’m starting to doubt these hangers get recycled anywhere. LA has one of the best recycling programs in the country, so if they don’t recycle here, where do they recycle?

    Then I called Gap Customer Service again, and the lady was like, “Well we’re not trying to offend anyone.” And I was like … It’s not about being offensive, it’s about the fact that Gap claims to be an environmentally sustainable company and, in fact, is not.

  18. Added by Green Bean on April 19th, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    I called a third Old Navy store here in the Bay Area and the woman told me that they save them in bags and people often come and pick up bags. She said that, as far as their store, most are not thrown out. That particular store is in a lower income area (if there is such a thing up here).

    Anyway, email me at greenbeandreams (at) gmail (dot) com if you guys want to do anything. I’d be happy to spearhead an online petition. We could put our heads together and think if there is anything else to be done. Knowing that there is no set policy for reuse and that most stores throw them in the trash and that Gap claims to be “green”, I think we could accomplish something here. Perhaps it might influence other companies. I’m willing to guess that if Old Navy throws out their hangers than Target does too.

  19. Added by arduous on April 20th, 2008 at 2:18 am

    I think an online petition is a great start.

    And maybe a web campaign like Take Back The Filter though I don’t know enough about web design to make anything so spiffy.

  20. Added by organicneedle on April 20th, 2008 at 5:55 am

    Even if giving them away was their standard reuse policy it would be better. I’m sure there are a lot of small businesses that would love to come and collect the hangers for free and reuse them.

  21. Added by arduous on April 20th, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Orgie, what’s your email address? Want to email Green Bean and me arduousblog (at) gmail (dot) com and we can try and brainstorm some more?

  22. Added by heather t on April 22nd, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I think Beth at FPF started a Yahoo Group to brainstorm how best to address the Brita campaign. I’m at work, but I could do this later tonight.

  23. Added by Just for the Record…Buying a Shirt, Wearing It, Stinking It Up, and Returning It Is Not, I Repeat NOT a Method of Consumer Reduction. So Knock It Off Stinkpit! | Organic Needle on July 23rd, 2008 at 5:50 am

    […] fancy…like with no snot or peanut butter streaks. Now my choices are fairly limited by my Ban on the Gap and a rather short shopping attention span. (Yeah, the ban is STILL on baby!) I like Ann Taylor. […]

  24. Added by Wendy A. on January 22nd, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I made a similar call months ago when I discovered that Old Navy throws out all of their hangers each day. The response I got was that Old Navy is an environmentally responsible company but they leave it up to the customer to either leave or dispose of the hangers as they choose. Any hangers not taken by customers are thrown away each day.

  25. Added by Fred on June 1st, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I found out this weekend about Old Navy throwing away hangers. I was shocked. I had my cup of starbucks and I asked the cashier, do you have a garbage I can throw this in. He took it and threw it in with the hangers. 2 large garbage bins full of hangers. I said… that is not the garbage right. He said yes. Do you throw away the hangers? I asked. He said yes… like it was not big deal.
    WOAWWW That is a lot of hangers. Are they the only one doing that?

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