- Obama downplays IRS scandal, blames Obamacare rollout on ‘outdated’ agencies
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
- Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
Clothing donations bypass the needy
Every year, people in wealthy countries donate mountains of unwanted clothes to charity groups, convinced the garments will go directly to the poor.
In fact, only a fraction of the clothes many charities collect are given to the needy. Most are sold to dealers of used clothing and exported to developing countries, especially Africa, where they sell at market prices, depressing local textile industries.
“There is no charity when it comes to the trade in used clothing. This is a lucrative business. In the market stalls of most African countries, castoffs donated to charity command prices about 2,000 percent over what the wholesalers pay for it,” said Neil Kearney, general secretary of the Brussels-based International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF), during a recent telephone interview with The Washington Times.
Used-clothes dealers have turned people’s generosity into a multibillion-dollar business, some exporters say.
Charities like Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army sell donated clothes by weight to wholesale merchants, who grade them. The top grade usually ends up in vintage shops in the United States or Europe, and lesser-grade merchandise, much of which is faded or stained, is labeled Africa A or Africa B.
“A lot of the unsold merchandise will be sold to salvage dealers, who may turn and take those clothes overseas, where we are not quite sure what happens,” a Goodwill official said. “What happens to them after — we don’t have any control on that.”
David J. Samson, export manager of Exown Inc., a Columbus, Ohio, secondhand-clothing export company, said he buys used garments that are not sold in the charity stores network.
The charities “try to sell the clothes to the public, and on a weekly basis, they add fresh items. I buy what is left.”
He said some export companies do not conduct business that way. “They want to make as much money as possible and buy the clothes without giving the charity shops the opportunity to sell them.”
Mr. Samson said many shoppers in African markets say they prefer American clothes to local products because the fabrics are more durable and “Made in America” has a certain cachet.
So while tourists are looking for traditional African clothes, the natives are eager to buy T-shirts with logos of American professional sports teams. Hats with sports logos are all the rage among young Africans, as are faded jeans and T-shirts sporting beer ads.
The reason for the used clothing’s popularity is clear.
Taking average African incomes into account, most people cannot afford to buy new clothes sold in shops, where the prices are comparable to those in the United States or Europe.
But the trade in secondhand clothing is destroying the textile industry in Africa and sinking poor countries deeper into poverty, Mr. Kearney said.
The overwhelming quantity of used clothing has adversely affected textile and garment industries, thus preventing developing countries from taking advantage of favorable international trade agreements like the 2000 U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act, which offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.
Why such hatred toward America's freedom of religion?
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Activists encourage Obama to circumvent Congress, use more executive authority
- Obama: Nelson Mandela now 'belongs to the ages'
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- GOP launches candidate training: How to talk to women
- Increase in battlefield deaths linked to new rules of engagement in Afghanistan
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- Russian diplomats busted bilking $1.5 million from Medicaid
- Democratic infighting erupts over 'we can have it all' fantasy on entitlements
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
Understanding economic events with a free market explanation
John Wood illustrates a new American politics, and the path to get there.
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
White House pets gone wild!