I never want to buy clothes again

Did you know that in Africa, there are literally mountains of old clothes that were discarded by us in Europe?

I learned this from watching an episode of “De Prijsknaller” (the big discount), a Dutch TV show about the hidden cost behind cheap everyday products. Here in The Netherlands we have a lot of unused second-hand clothing, which we put in recycle bins, expecting it to be donated to people in need.

But that’s not really what happens.

What really happens is that after these clothes get sorted, the best clothing is shipped to Eastern Europe, where it is sold on the second hand market. The remainder, and thus the most inferior clothing, gets shipped to countries in Africa, where it is sold on local markets.

But because so many of these clothes are very low quality, they can’t be sold. People in Africa want good clothes too, but we send them our crappy leftovers. And so these clothes end up on huge landfills on the outskirts of towns. There are literally mountains of clothing, littering the land and beaches.

I was pretty shocked when I saw this. I hardly ever buy new clothes but this makes me not want to buy any clothes at all. Instead, I just want to wear the clothes I already have, forever. In fact, right now I’m wearing a pair of jeans I bought in 2008. For a while it didn’t fit anymore, but after I lost some weight it’s a perfect fit again. I had to have it patched up years ago when it was starting to fall apart, but they are my favourite jeans, so I hope to wear them for a long time. When needed, I’ll patch them up again. But this is an exception.

Clothing now has little to do with quality, durability and sustainability. Instead the fashion industry has become an industry of disposable goods. Something is broken.

It’s not all bad though. I saw this tweet the other day:

I had never heard of Unrecorded, but brands like these can give us hope.

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