This Is What Happens to Your Clothes When You Donate Them in the West – India Real Time – WSJ

As heaps of castoff clothes from the U.S. cascade down a conveyor belt, rows of sari-clad women frantically sort the garments by type—T-shirts in one barrel, women’s jeans in another. They pluck out sweatpants, underwear, sweaters, coats, and even furs.

The jumble is part of the thousands of tons of used clothing that arrive each month in this western Indian port, a hub in the vast global network that purchases secondhand clothes in rich countries and resells them throughout the developing world.

“I don’t understand why people throw away all these clothes,” says one of the sorters, as she sits on a warehouse floor during a break. “Maybe they don’t have time to wash them.

”In fact, the glut springs from the rise of fast fashion, which has flooded the world with inexpensive clothing, often produced in some of the same low-wage countries where it later ends up sold in market stalls or reprocessed into goods like blankets or pillow stuffing.

To some, this a virtuous circle, minimizing waste while providing jobs and a source of low-cost clothes for the poor. Even retailers such as Hennes & Mauritz AB and others have gotten into the act, collecting worn apparel to recycle. Since it began collecting used clothing at its stores in 2013, H&M has recycled more than 20,000 tons of it.

Source: This Is What Happens to Your Clothes When You Donate Them in the West – India Real Time – WSJ

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