What happens once you dropped your old clothes in these bins? It is a common misconception that donated clothes are freely distributed in developing countries. They get sold to African distributors, who again sell them to local salesmen. The cheap second hand clothes then flood the African markets and prevent the countries to develop their own textile industries, which leads to local tailors loosing their work; a one-sided dependency on the west and a post-colonial power dynamic.
Only half of the clothes are in a sellable state, the rest gets dumped without proper waste management, clogging local rivers and polluting the water. Basically we shift the burden of textile waste disposal to countries with the least capacity to deal with it. It is not easy to stop this hand-me-down trade because too many people are dependent on it. But a solution could come from creative innovation and sustainable business models that use upcycling techniques to turn this one sided trade into a circular trade. Building a bridge between the byproducts of western consumption and the African re-invention of such products.
Together with local Tailors in rural Kenya we've built a production chain that reinvents the second hand clothing industry and strengthens the African economy. On the second hand markets we collect fabrics (mainly curtains) to upcycle into new clothing items. Those items we then sell to customers all around the world, creating a stream of revenue back to the African market. Fully sustainable, circular and resourceful.