Sometimes kindness destroys people even if the intention with which the act was performed was nothing but pure at heart. Millions of people around the globe donate clothes to the African community on annual basis hoping that they will be a source of happiness for someone who is needy and truly deserves to have them.

Yea sounds great right. No.

Thanks but no thanks.

It’s become such a common practice for the Africans that even their native languages have a different set of words dedicated to the pile of used clothes. The clothes given to the third world countries go in the name of donation but almost half of them enter the second hand market. The second hand market is then used to sort the clothes out and sell the donations at a cheaper price than the country’s own industry, thus crippling the domestic market.

The second hand market has its own ecosystem.

Second hand market decides the clothes distribution based upon the country’s culture and current standing in the world of fashion. Research states that white shirts were frequently sent of Pakistan because there is a huge demand and the number of young professionals is growing day by day. Warmer coats headed to Eastern Europe because the weather demanded it. Shorts and T shirts are sent to India and Africa where they were sold for relatively less money than the domestic market demands.

It is estimated that 70 pounds of textile waste is thrown away by Americans on annual basis. Council for Textile Recycling states that the influx of cheap and yet good looking clothing from America has an adverse effect on the domestic market of the receiving countries. In fact, the garment industry in the third world countries is a failure because of our kindness.

How is it a threat you may ask…

Used clothing which enters the market in good condition outsells the new products being manufactured at the domestic level. It undercuts them because it’s in good condition and is available at a relatively much cheaper price. Secondly, the COO phenomena also play a part. Country of Origin theory states that we buy the product after looking at the country name that manufactured it. Hence people in third world countries are more inclined towards getting hold of a ‘developed’ country product. It appeals to them more.

To protect the domestic garment industry East African Community (EAC) plans to outlaw second hand clothing by 2019 to boast the domestic industry growth. Dr Andrew Brooks have debated long about this topic and lamented its consequences in his book titled ‘Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fashion and Second Hand Clothes’.

Here’s the funniest part:

Imports from Africa to US are only $43 million while the US exports to the same countries amount to $281 million. Ironically, to make it look even more bizarre, Americans are actually standing up to their ‘rights’ and playing the victim card. Recently they even trashed the East African Community proposal of ban by declaring that they will be hitting back with a ban too. Thanks to the Trump ‘America First’ agenda.

The kindness based second hand market of garments is a heaven in disguise for the job seekers too. Destroying the market would prove to be long term beneficial but in doing so many lives would turn upside down. According to the Textile Recycling Association, the second hand garment industry employee more than 3000 people every year. The fate of these people rests upon the illegal sales and decline of the domestic market.

Don’t let your kindness be the reason of demise of African Garments Industry.