Last year when The Gap was installing brand new mannequins for selected stores, they needed an eco-friendly alternative to dispose of their old mannequins. Many retailers just throw their unwanted mannequins in the trash, but not The Gap.

They just made one phone call – to Mannequin Madness – and we were able to have our network of used mannequin vendors across the country and Canada remove the mannequins directly the store. We helped the Gap recycle over 2500 mannequins and we are scheduled to do another round of recycling for them in the first quarter of 2011. Given the fact that The Gap has over 7,000 stores, each with a minimum of 16 mannequins, that is a lot of mannequins that can be diverted from the landfill.

Instead of being thrown in the trash (mannequins do not biodegrade), recycled mannequins get an extended life cycle. They are either rented or sold at bargain prices to other businesses, individuals, artists and non-profits. Even broken or damaged mannequins get used by people who want them for art projects, Halloween displays, Burning Man or theatre props.

We went to the Gap Headquarters last to present them with our Environmental Excellence Award. They are taking the lead in areas on the social responsibility arena, where other retailers are still lagging behind.

In fact The Gap recently launched a special website devoted to their Social Responsibility efforts, which is quite comprehensive. A lot of retailers just give lip service to being socially responsible, but we know from first hand experience that The Gap is really making an effort.

We hope that one day throwing mannequins in the trash will be outlawed (like putting motor oil down the sewer drain) or at least frowned upon. In the case of mannequin recycling it is not only a good thing to do environmentally, but it is significantly cheaper for a retailer to have our company recycle the mannequins instead of paying for a waste disposal company to remove the mannequins. That is what we call a “double green” – save cash while saving the environment.

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