Is your old t-shirt hurting African economies?

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posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 09:55 AM
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edition.cnn.com...

Okay, this article is very thought-provoking, and I may have put it in the wrong forum (possibly Global Meltdown would be better?) but from my point of view, it's a social issue on a massive scale.

This guy Brooks is claiming that the re-circulation of second hand clothes in African countries is preventing them from becoming 'industrialized' because it crowds out the textile entrepreneurs and designers there.

In the beginning, it appears to be a win-win situation for everyone involved; Western charities receive much-needed revenue, African buyers with weak purchasing power get low-priced, well-made clothing, and merchants find eager customers for their merchandise.

But some experts say that the mass influx of cheap hand-me-downs from the West could have a much more negative impact.

"The long-term effect is that countries such as Malawi or Mozambique or Zambia can't really establish or protect their own clothing industries if they are importing second-hand goods," says Andrew Brooks, lecturer at King's College London and co-author of a study called "Unravelling the Relationships between Used-Clothing Imports and the Decline of African Clothing Industries."

"Your t-shirt may be quite cheap for someone to buy, but it would be better if that person could buy a locally manufactured t-shirt, so the money stays within the economy and that helps generate jobs," he adds.


I mulled this idea over for a while before posting it, because it bothers me and I'm not sure what to make of it.

I personally believe in reuse and recycling of existing products BEFORE manufacturing new goods. Whether it's a moratorium on construction of 'new' buildings until all of the OLD buildings are either occupied or dissambled for reuse of the materials, or restaurants throwing out perfectly good food rather than providing it to the hungry, or clothing donated to Goodwill and Planet Earth-type collections.

I frequently shop at thrift stores myself - right here in the USA, because you CAN find good quality clothing at very cheap prices - and I can't justify paying $80 for a frikking pair of jeans, and I find it impossible to reconcile how some items, such as are advertised in 'Town and Country' magazine, or those other high-class mags that show fashions that are priced in the thousands for a pair of shoes or one sweater.

I don't know ANYONE who can afford that kind of clothing, but apparently there are (and I presume they are the 1% and their off-spriing who wouldn't be caught dead in a thrift store).

The alternative, of course, is cheap crap made in China or other 3rd world places that they sell at Walmart, K-Mart, etc. which happens to be UGLY as well, and made of flimsy material that wears out after 2 or 3 months of wear.

The article mentions that if the West stopped providing second-hand clothes, then Chinese cheap crapola would take it's place. Fair enough. But if the people can't afford anything else, they can't afford anything else.

The vendors of these second-hand clothes are profiting from selling them, and that does contribute to the economy, and it does help the locals to be clothed at affordable prices.

So, I don't know what to make of this. Perhaps limit the 'export' of used goods, and keep it all domestic?

The issue of double/triple/infinite taxation when an item is resold is also a problem. I don't think garage sales should be outlawed or taxes paid on the proceeds....

What do you guys think about this?
The conclusion of the article:

Brooks says that whilst used t-shirts, jeans and dresses can satisfy a basic need for affordable clothing, they ultimately help keep people in poverty.
"Second-hand clothing maintains the status quo," he says. "It doesn't help the poor get richer, it just keeps things as they are at the moment."

So what is better? Using what we build and manufacture until it no longer serves, and being frugal and not a consumer-driven society? Do the economists think it's better to just throw the stuff in the landfill instead? Leave the blight in ghettos standing and/or abandoned?

The 'disposable' mentality of the West is wasteful and has a lot to do with the problems we have now.
That's why people buy Japanese-made cars instead of domestic crap that is "planned obsolesence."

Interested in your views on the issue. Please keep in mind I'm no economist, nor am I 'fine' with outsourcing or importing of labor, goods, jobs, services. What am I missing here? I get the part about jobs for making new things, but what is a decent compromise for the global population?

edit on 12-4-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)




posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:03 AM
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Most of the stuff that we purchase and wear comes from third world countries.

Then after we wear it a while, and give it to charity, it ends up being worn by poor African people.

I don't think that makes us bad people. Not any worse than us buying the clothing from a third world manufacturer and hurting manufacturers in our own country.

Can't win, I guess?



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:07 AM
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reply to post by butcherguy
 

I know, it's really confusing to me. I don't think slave-labor in 3rd-world countries is good AT ALL - and I prefer to buy domestic goods when I can (not cars, though. Sorry....although I'm fine with a Honda or Toyota made in the USA,sure)
so how do we stop this hamster wheel??

Maybe this globalization thing could, in the extreme long-run, result in fair wages for everyone and quality goods everywhere, but in the meantime - what to do? Ban imports? I'm okay with that...I think. Ban exports, too. End of global trade. Or possibly specialization among countries who crank out the best quality stuff at reasonable price and letting discarded goods provide for the needy until that happens.

What a mess. A bloody mess.
edit on 12-4-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:13 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 

Yeah, it is really tough to wring out.

Part of me says, hey... it isn't my business how much a person in Indonesia is getting paid to sew the seams on the shirt that I am wearing, but at the same time, I don't want to be part of a deal where 4 year old kids are slaving in a sweatshop 7 days a week.

But to throw a shirt away that is perfectly serviceable, when a charitable organization is willing to ship it to Africa, so that a poor person that could scarcely afford it otherwise has something to wear... seems like a waste.



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:20 AM
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reply to post by butcherguy
 


Right. It's the 'profit-margin' thinking of Western capitalism that outsources manufacturing and other work to "cheaper" places (and tax evasion) that bugs me the most. I'd be fine with compartmentalizing things - USA produces wheat best, so it trades in wheat with the world. Middle-east has "oil". That's their commodity. Fine. Asia has lots of rice. Good.

So, that's what their main exports are. Shouldn't the stuff being imported, though, be providing a decent living for whoever produces it? Come to think of it, the cheap crap from overseas importing DOES hurt our own country, just as much. But this cat Brooks doesn't mention the fact that millions upon millions of Americans and Westerners can't even afford domestic products anymore.....thus the sweat shops thrive, and the corps get rich, and the rest of us are, well, buggered.

capitalism. Gha.



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:27 AM
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dont overthink this. I think the premise of the article your reference is from the view point of view/ opinion of someone who, like us all, has an opinion and is not the truth, only an opinion.

I write this as I sit her in my 1964 Cocoa Beach boom era house dressed in a pair of old work cutoffs, an army surplus t-shirt and pair of wal-mart running shoes which I've keep going for about 2 years now with shoe goo.
I drive a 1981 toyota pickup and fully embrace the "re-use" life style. Not because I need to either I've been in my job/career for 31 years plus make over $60,000 a year and will be retiring with a full pension in 18 months.

thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, Metal recycling, ebay and craigslist is how I buy and sell. And I'm happy with my life. My 2 kids and wife have the same philosophy.

so please don't let one person's opinion and posible hidden agenda make you doubt yourself

Peace and love, Jerry



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:28 AM
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I think the benefits of those thrift-shop clothes being bought by African vendors and sold to the poorest of the poor,far and away outweigh any negatives.In most African countries,its not a case of:"Oh,i'm not gonna bother trying to start my own little reasonably-priced clothing business,because of the competition from imported cheap clothing vendors"

Its a question of: There are for most Africans very little hope of ever getting hold of the capital to buy the sewing machines,fabric and apparatus necessary to do so-leave alone the money to pay wages,especially in the difficult starting days of any small business.

Make no mistake-this i have experienced all my life-Africans are some of THE most creative and talented people on this planet,in the areas of art,arts+crafts,woodwork,jewellery,woven rugs,etc-you will be left awestruck at the creative thought,the funkiness,the craftsmanship,the absolute unique beauty and charm of African art and handiwork-and that goes for woven fabric,design+making of clothing too-they need to stand back not one millimeter to people from any other continent-in fact,in some areas of handcraft,their sheer creativity,and talent make them superior in many similar genres elsewhere in the world,considering what little they had to work with/start out with.



This table my cat sometimes uses as a bed,is just something banged together over a weekend by some poor roadside vendor,just an example of what we consider average craftsmanship here



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:30 AM
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S&F

Nothing is wrong with second hand. I am all about reuse and recycle. I wear clothes out, literally. I have found some really nice things at the thrift stores.
I can't see how letting them wear second hand causes them poverty, of course I am not an economics major! I hate to see waste in landfills. It makes absolutely no sense to me.



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:33 AM
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Thanks to you latest posters! So, I'm not alone, whew!!

You have each made excellent points. All true.


Yeah, I live in a house that's 74 years old, filled with found or thrift/garage sale/discarded furniture that will last forever, wear clothes until they're rags, and drive a 97 Honda (my 89 just died
). My husband's truck is a 98, and it and my car are both paid for. We sock away extra money rather than getting 'credit' for large purchases. If we can't afford it, we don't buy it. It's the way families make ends meet.

I also buy scratch-and-dent or close-out stuff when we have to replace appliances, maintain the house, etc.


edit on 12-4-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:37 AM
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Isnt this what the world economy is all about?

Dump a bunch of cheap electronics in a country and that country has no reason to produce its own electronics.

Ship over a bunch of cheap steel to a country and that country has no reason to manufacture its own steel.

Ship a bunch of cheap automobiles over to a country and that country has no reason to make its own automobiles.

Ship a bunch of cheap produce to a country and that country has no reason to farm it's own.

That's America.

Shipping a bunch of cheap shirts to Africa means Africa doesnt have to make its own shirts. Same thing.



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:38 AM
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Also,i think(if you're a person who likes to dress in an individualistic way,like me) its idiotic to not look in thrift shops for some gems.I've found some real treaures there,and because it's usually a few years old,not every 2nd woman you bump into is going to be wearing the same thing-i don't follow fashion,i like plain clothing i can jazz up with my own handmade unique jewellery and accessories,if i feel i need to add something to what i'm wearing.You should wear the clothes,and not the other way around.

Don't knock the cheap Chinese clothing outlets either-my fave jean,which i will wear till there's literally more holes than fabric,came from a Chinese shop 9 years ago.If you like sexy shoes/stiletto's-they got some awesome ones,at a fraction of the price you'll pay elsewhere,also cool shoes,and boots,and sneakers.

Once again-its What you choose,stick to plain colors,and the better fabrics(which they do have plenty of) and you'll get bang for your buck allright.



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:42 AM
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reply to post by thisguyrighthere
 

Please refer to my first reply above,re the clothing issue.



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:42 AM
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reply to post by grubblesnert
 

I really enjoyed my brief visit to Cocoa Beach. Don't brag!!
I'm sitting in the landlocked center of this country, and it's April and 40 degrees outside.



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:47 AM
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reply to post by Raxoxane
 

Exactly! High-five! In fact, I have a closet stuffed with yards of fabric and old clothes that I intend to 'recycle' by cutting them up and making new stuff out of the parts and pieces. Have done so when making costumes for re-enactors and stuff, but I think it's time to go 'eccentric clothing for now' It's fun, artistic outlet, and I can dress as fun as I like. I prefer to look 'different' and like to express my personality with my clothing.

(Although lately I just sit in jammy pants and think about it....my bad. I'm such a procrastinator. I even bought a really good quality sewing machine a few years ago to use for costuming with full intentions of learning the finer skills of tailoring, etc. Also want to decorate old recycled clothes with the tons of beads and ribbons I have accumulated. And I will...eventually.)



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:49 AM
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reply to post by thisguyrighthere
 



Isnt this what the world economy is all about?

Well, it's how it 'works' for now - but the working classes aren't getting much out of it except low-paying jobs and cheap crap. It's the fat cats who win, and the rest of us are hosed. That's what I hate about it.

It doesn't HAVE to be that way...but that's the way the elites want it. Heartless bastards. The other choice would be to export and import QUALITY stuff, so everybody wins. But no, that isn't likely to happen. What would all the bank types do in the Cayman Islands?
edit on 12-4-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:51 AM
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We are all in a catch 22 about helping the people in Africa.

Almost everything that the western nations have done in order to help is later criticized. If we send food to the starving people, it costs less than local farmers can grow the food so it has a negative impact on the economy.

If we send t-shirts, it prevents locals from developing a textile economy.

What can we do??

I really think that the only thing the developed nations can do is to help the people to help themselves.

A long time ago, I designed fish hatcheries. One of the publications that I subscribed to had an article about aquaculture for developing countries. This was truly small scale fish farming farming. I think that by showing people how to be self sufficient you can help them.



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:54 AM
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Hmmmm.....Good point. Cloths on your back vs economy. I think I would rather have clothes on my back or food in my belly than worrying if the rich are going to get richer. But I am only an abnormal person, one who can see through what is being said. Give these people some seeds and soil amendments and teach them to take care of themselves with the second hand clothes on their backs.



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:54 AM
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reply to post by Raxoxane
 


You mean this?:

Its a question of: There are for most Africans very little hope of ever getting hold of the capital to buy the sewing machines,fabric and apparatus necessary to do so-leave alone the money to pay wages,especially in the difficult starting days of any small business.


Chicken or the egg. Why invest where there is no necessity or opportunity? Cant risk creating that opportunity without investment.

The shirts in this article could be any product in any nation. It's pointing out the problems of a global economy and using shirts to put the US in the position of say China or Taiwan. An attempt to get people to take a step back and see the real cost of convenience.

The shirts are a simple variable. Replace "shirts" with "X" and the point remains.



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:57 AM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
Thanks to you latest posters! So, I'm not alone, whew!!

You have each made excellent points. All true.


Yeah, I live in a house that's 74 years old, filled with found or thrift/garage sale/discarded furniture that will last forever, wear clothes until they're rags, and drive a 97 Honda (my 89 just died
). My husband's truck is a 98, and it and my car are both paid for. We sock away extra money rather than getting 'credit' for large purchases. If we can't afford it, we don't buy it. It's the way families make ends meet.

I also buy scratch-and-dent or close-out stuff when we have to replace appliances, maintain the house, etc.


edit on 12-4-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)
ha! sounds like you and I have a lot in common
Mid-Century Modern, Atomic age is our family passion and our house shows it. My daughter goes to the Goodwill store on dollar bag day's buys the clothes she likes and other items she knows have value. she resells the one's she doesn't keep to a local vintage clothes store. She helped pay her way through college with this and other things. Her job at a health food store kept her fed with the produce and other blemished produces which the managerment allowed the employees to take home(she's a smart kid,22 y/o, and has a recent state college degree!).
My son is the best fabricator and mechanic of anyone his age and most people I've met , except maybe me haha. (he's a 20 y/o college sophmore) his '89 toyota MR2 is an example to his skills).
My wife has an eagle's eye for what is valuable in the world of vintage clothes and household items. I have seen her turn many $1 or 50 cents finds into $ $50- $100 sales!

Maybe it runs in the blood.


thank you for allowing me to brag



posted on Apr, 12 2013 @ 10:57 AM
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reply to post by Wildbob77
 



I think that by showing people how to be self sufficient you can help them.

Precisely. My mom has decided that for holiday gifts she's going to buy 'shares' in Heffers or Goats or whatever in people's names. A few years ago I bought from Cornell University the bird-feeder kit thingy they had that was helping to do a census on bird populations.


Maybe I should post that Sarah McLachlan video "World on Fire" again. How the $150,000 that it would have cost to make a music video was spent instead on helping people get started. In fact, I think I will, just because I like it....and it drives the point home so well.





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