Social and Economic Impacts of Clothing Trade—Debate on the Used Clothing Import Ban: Discussion Questions from FASH455

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#1 Why or why not do you think the used clothing import ban truly can help East African countries better develop their local textile and apparel industry? (please provide detailed examples, if possible)

#2 If U.S. citizens donate clothing to local charity organizations and second-hand clothing stores, in hopes to better the community, why are these organizations exporting the clothes overseas?

#3 Used clothing imports were seen as a threat to the EAC but were also viewed as having a positive environmental impact because the clothes were being up-cycled and recycled. Do you think if there was more emphasis put on the benefits of importing used clothes, due to its positive environmental effect, that the EAC would put more thought into their decisions to ban all used apparel imports?

#4 Notably, almost none of the used clothing exported from the United States to EAC countries are actually “Made in the USA”—they were originally imported from Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. Also, most U.S. used clothing exports to EAC were “free giveaways” by U.S. consumers. Is it ethical for SMART to oppose the used clothing import ban so that its own can make a profit? What is your evaluation?

#5 Why or why not do you agree with U.S. government’s response to the EAC import ban on used clothing? What could be done differently and why?

#6 Given the debate on used clothing trade and its impact on East African nations, will you continue to donate used clothing? Why or why not?

[For FASH455: 1) Please mention the question number in your comments; 2) Please address at least TWO questions in your comments]

Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

3 thoughts on “Social and Economic Impacts of Clothing Trade—Debate on the Used Clothing Import Ban: Discussion Questions from FASH455”

  1. #3: I do believe that if more emphasis was put on the benefits of imported used clothes that the EAC would reconsider. Climate change is a huge problem in our world right now along with sustainability concerns. If they were to look more into the positive effects that these clothes could have on not only the lower class consumers but also the environment- I think they would reconsider the ban and import used clothes again-perhaps with some restrictions.
    #5: I disagree with the EAC’s ban because I, myself, am very concerned about our environment and the state that we are in. Recycling and up-cycling clothes is a positive thing. I realize that there are too many imports coming in and it is becoming problem so I think the EAC should put restrictions and rules in place and re-open these imports. This can be a very positive thing for the EAC and the environment as a whole if it is careful evaluated and the plan is re-worked so their isn’t too much surplus.

    1. great thought! As mentioned in the reading, EAC countries don’t want to be treated as a dumpsite for used clothing created by American consumers. Also, in history, no country ever achieved industrialization by consuming somebody else’s second-hand stuff. Should EAC countries be given the right to say no to used clothing? If the environment is a concern, why shouldn’t each country be responsible for the problems they created by themselves? Very interested in your follow-up comments.

  2. #5 I don’t agree with the US government’s response to the EAC’s imported clothing ban because the imported clothing ban is a great opportunity for member of the EAC to build their own textile and apparel industries and allow them to stray away from just producing in the labor intensive sector. I believe it is unfair and unethical to stunt the economic growth of nations that are experiencing such rampant poverty. In addition, if the EAC is able to develop its textile and apparel industries, US fashion brands can take advantage of this and use them as another sourcing destination.

    #6 Recently, I’ve been trying my best to avoid donating my used clothing for the very reasons stated in the article. Before automatically donating my old clothes, I have been asking my friends and family if they’d be interested in taking it, yet I usually inevitably end up donating a portion of my clothes just because it is a better alternative than having it pile up in a landfill. However, I think this issue says something about us consumers as a whole. Perhaps the issue isn’t where we should donate our used clothing, but rather that we shouldn’t consume so many goods in the first place so we avoid this problem as a whole. If we were more conscious and selective of the clothing that we purchase, then our clothing will last much longer and there will be no need to donate it. This means that we must shift our focus from fast fashion to longer-lasting, higher quality products.

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