Discussion record Expresses the views of the writer.
This year alone, three reports show that about 40 percent of used clothing sold from Europe to African countries such as Kenya and Ghana is in poor condition to sell on local markets.
The images show beaches and rivers carpeted with European textile waste.
How much clothing waste comes from Norway? We don’t know that. When we ask Norwegian collectors what happens to the clothes we donate, the collectors say that the clothes are primarily reused in Norway or abroad.
They say there is good control over the clothes sent out of the country. But they cannot say for sure where the clothes go after they are sold to European buyers.
“This job makes me sick”
The clothes that end up in countries like Kenya and Ghana are part of the huge global trade in used clothes. Annually, more than 4.5 million tons circulate in the international recycling market. Nearly two million tons of used clothing from Europe.
You and I are trained to have a clear conscience when we get rid of clothes we no longer want by donating them to collectors like Fretex or UFF. This is not surprising. Collectors promise to reach out to those in need of donations.
But it’s not clear how the clothes help others.
In May, I visited clothing vendors from Katmandu’s second clothing market in Accra, Ghana. The message from the sellers is clear: this is not a European charity. It is business at all levels, including second-hand sellers.
But it is a very uncertain business for them.
Local vendors have to borrow money to buy large plastic bags of used clothes from Europe and America. There is a kind of troll in the box business because they themselves don’t know the contents of the bags until they buy them and open them. The clothes they receive are increasingly damaged.
Fast fashion has introduced cheap plastic textiles that come with holes and cracks, stains or worse: mold and moisture that means the clothes can’t be sold.
Clothes they can’t repair or reuse are sold for a few pennies for energy purposes. They are burned in the market, in backyards and in the neighborhood by groundnut vendors, releasing dangerous gases that local residents breathe. Since textiles are cheaper than coal or wood.
Other vendors report neck problems and health problems as they carry plastic bags of used clothes to the market.
“This job makes me sick,” one salesman told me.
Fall and winter are dark in every way
Out of sight out of mind
There is a correlation between the overproduction of new clothes and the international trade in second-hand clothes. Fast fashion chains are based on use and throw away. They need excessive consumption to survive.
While pushing new clothes into stores, last year’s mass production has to end somewhere.
Then collectors must ask themselves: Has the global recycling market become a shell for the overproduction of cheap fast fashion?
Excess production is not allowed to continue if there is to be waste in the buying countries. National waste systems will buckle under the weight of our used clothing, and clothing manufacturers must take responsibility – at least by paying themselves. When that doesn’t happen, 97 percent of the fabric is shipped out of the country.
Out of sight out of mind.
15 million salary – she is not shy
Are you going to stop supplying Fretex?
A major problem in today’s apparel industry is the overproduction of clothing. But charity fundraisers need to look themselves in the mirror.
As we see new evidence that the volume of our used clothing is a waste problem, collectors need to show perspective on what happens to clothing. They must ensure that all waste is sorted before the garments are sold, and they must have full transparency about what happens to the garments in their production flows.
It’s time for collectors to clearly distance themselves from the overproduction of the clothing industry, and that means themselves. Gets less surplus clothing from clothing chains.
You, the reader, may be wondering what to do with your old used clothes. Want to stop delivering to Fretex?
No. The most eco-friendly thing is to wear your clothes as much as possible. Repair or re-stitch clothes on someone else’s property before trying to give them new life.
If that doesn’t work, our recommendation is to hand them over to Fretex, Uff and other collectors.
But in an industry that has been allowed to operate unchecked for too long, the future will be in our hands with greater transparency and fairness and better political control.
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