On 21 September, a report from the Global Investigative Journalism Network examined the clothing collection bins belonging to charities or fashion chains where you can dump your used jeans or T-shirts.  It asks what really happens to those used garments? Where do they travel? Are they sold and to whom? And what happens to the most ragged clothes?  This followed an investigation involving trackers – tiny devices that can emit signals allowing reporters to follow an item for up to a year.  It found a secretive multi-million-dollar business involving used clothing.  The investigation involved fitting the trackers to used clothing and seeing where it ended up after leaving Finland. All 6 garments were apparently sent out of Finland. The jeans went to a huge sorting centre in Germany, a winter coat ended up in Latvia, a men’s jacket travelled to Helsinki harbour where the signal was lost.  After 5 months a signal was received from Nigeria from a ragged hoodie, and after 6 months a stained sweater arrived in Kenya, and after a year the biggest surprise: a jacket with holes and oil stains had arrived in Pakistan.  It is said that you might argue that selling usable clothes to Africa is part of a sustainable circular economy. But the idea of shipping stained, ragged garments from Europe or the US to Africa is said to be in no way ethical.  The report considers the effect of the exports on local clothing trades, the carbon footprint, and the fact that some of the clothes just end up in a landfill site in another continent.

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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