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The dirty business with old clothes

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Published on Aug 14, 2019

Most people believe, that old clothes donations collected by various organisations are immediately sent to countries in need. What they don't know is, the majority of the donated clothing is sold per kilogramme. Some aid organisations merely place their logo on the collection containers of used clothes firms.

A small amount of the clothing is given to the needy in the country of origin. The better, still useful items are sent to Eastern Europe and the Arab states. 60% of the articles are sent to Africa. But just what happens to the used items there? Michael Höft and Christian Jentzsch travelled to Tanzania in search of answers. Their conclusion: Not only German companies and several major aid organisations earn well from the donations; for many traders in Africa, old clothes donations are a lucrative business model. Even the poorest of the poor have to pay at least something for them. The cheap clothes flood the markets of the respective countries and bring the African textile industry to its knees.

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