Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Economics

Reader 1

Kerry Odell

Reader 2

Lisa Sullivan

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Rights Information

© 2015 Natalie L. Hoang

Abstract

This thesis examines the effects of overconsumption of clothing in the Global North on African textile industries through increased donations to secondhand stores. I begin by explaining how the growth of the fast fashion industry has increased the purchase and production of clothing over the recent decades. As an industry built on trends that quickly go in and out of style, fast fashion has resulted in massive amounts of unworn clothing. Consumers either throw away or donate their clothing, each of which result in either environmental or economic challenges.

I explore post-consumer clothing’s donation route. Most donated clothing goes to secondhand stores such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army. However, with increasing amounts of donations going to these stores, they’ve reached a point in which they can no longer sell as quickly as they receive. Leftovers are sent overseas as a philanthropic action, but are met with concern from economists. Foreign aid to developing countries has been a topic of debate, critiqued as a lazy way of providing a short-term benefit with possibly detrimental long-term results. Introducing post-consumer clothing into African clothing markets raises the concern that they will replace local textile industries.

I look at existing literature and fieldwork on this issue in order to examine the effects on textile industries in several countries. While the effects vary in differing countries and there are several other variables involved, such as market and political conditions, collective research shows that used-clothing donations account for 40% of the decline in apparel and textile production in an average African country.

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