How fast fashion adds to the world’s clothing waste problem (Marketplace)

[ ♪♪ ] >> Charlsie: This is
"Marketplace." >> Whoa. >> Pajamas, old dresses. >> Oh, my gosh! >> Charlsie: Where do all
your old clothes really end up? >> Ultimately, it is going
to end up in a landfill. >> Charlsie: We follow
the trail around the world. The high cost of fast fashion. This is your "Marketplace." I'm here checking out some of
the biggest fashion chains in the world but I'm not
shopping for new clothes. I'm actually trying to get
rid of some of my old ones. So these are my
all-time favourite sweat pants from college. These, I washed them and
they totally shrunk. These were also super cheap. This is just like
an old tee-shirt. It was black at one
point in its life. Some retailers are on a mission. They want your unwanted clothes,
and some are competing with charities for it. There's a new bin in town and
the message is clear: Don't throw old clothes
in the garbage, dump them here. They'll take curtains,
they'll take jeans.

They'll even take
your old underwear. [ ♪♪ ] >> Charlsie: Drop off old
clothes and get a coupon to save money when
you buy new ones. >> Charlsie: But before I
part with my old clothes, I've got a few more questions. These bins sure
make us all feel good. But are they doing as
much good as we think? Look at this! Look at these bags! Most of us are like the
Bretons and the Palmas in Markham, Ontario.

Somehow, we end up
with too many clothes. >> Emily, what's in here? >> Old clothes that
are too small for me. >> Charlsie: They purge
a few times a year, normally dropping their
haul in a charity bin. >> Whoa! >> Stuff like these
have, like, holes in them. >> Charlsie: This isn't
just a pile of clothes. It's now a pile
of textile waste. And we want to show the kids just how big the
problem really is.

[ ♪♪ ] Are you guys ready to go inside
and see what happens to all those clothes that you donate? >> Yes. >> All right.
Let's go inside. [ ♪♪ ] Go on in, take a look. >> Whoa! [ ♪♪ ] >> Clothes!
>> Clothes! >> That's clothes. >> Clothes.
>> Do you see that? >> Oh, my gosh. >> Clothes! >> That's a crazy pile. >> Charlsie: And get this,
all of this is what's leftover, the stuff no one wants. The stuff that
thrift stores can't sell. All those clothes you
guys piled up yesterday, this is where it can end up. >> It's a lot of clothes. >> It wasn't what I
was expecting to see. >> Charlsie: One warehouse,
more than 200,000 pounds of textile waste each week.

And that's just from
in and around Toronto. >> Across the country, we've got
nine other locations similar to this one. The last year or two years,
probably a 15 to 20% growth in the overall volume of
textiles that are coming in. >> Charlsie: Tonny Colyn is the
head of donations for Salvation Army Canada. So, how do you think fast
fashion has impacted…this? >> All of this. It's had a massive effect. And all of that stuff
has to go somewhere. >> Charlsie: The dads
of these two families, Michael Palma and Norman
Breton can't believe it. >> Their coats or
boots might be okay, but they want something new. >> If they need or if they
want, it's a big question. A lot of times they want
stuff but they don't need it. >> Charlsie: Still, we can't
seem to get our hands on fast fashion fast enough. Cheap, trendy,
disposable clothes. And we're even
bragging about it. >> And I ended up with
a bag full of clothes. >> Charlsie: We're all
buying too much, 400% more, since the 1980's.

>> The quality isn't all
that great but the prices are fantastic. >> Charlsie: But not all of
our old clothes make it to the donation bin. Most of it, 85%,
ends up in landfills. In North America,
it's estimated to be at least 25 billion pounds a year. In Canada alone, imagine a
mountain three times the size of Toronto's Rogers Centre Stadium
where they don't biodegrade easily because many are made
with fabrics that can't be broken down. Releasing chemicals and dyes
into our rivers, soil. That's part of the reason why
fashion is one of the world's top polluters. So in the last few years, some
of the biggest names in the business, Levi's, Nike,
Adidas, Zara have started
recycling programs. All retailers with donation bins
in stores calling out for your old garments.

But none go as far as H&M,
they will take anything, jeans, curtains, even underwear,
just check out their ads. >> The thing that you never
wore, this and this and that. The thing with the colour that
wasn't your colour, bring it on. >> Charlsie: This is one of
H&M's latest ad campaigns. >> Cut your jeans into pieces
and make new jeans out of them. >> Charlsie: "Cut your jeans
into pieces "and make new
jeans out of them." >> With your help, we literally
turn your old clothes into new garments. >> Charlsie: "We literally turn
your old clothes "into new garments." >> Garments in the worst
condition can be transformed into insulation material or
textile fibers woven into cloth, reborn as fashionable
new clothes of every conceivable kind.

>> Charlsie: What do you
think about recycling clothes? >> I think that's amazing. That's a great plan. >> Charlsie: We're talking
about recycling clothes. What does that make you
think is happening to the stuff? >> I think maybe it's, like,
like, refurbish the clothes and, like, get them
to look new again. >> Charlsie: What do you
think happens to that stuff? >> Doesn't it get recycled to
make new clothes from the old clothes? >> Let's shred it into fibers
and stitch it into something new. The only thing we
will not do it waste it. >> Charlsie: Bold
recycling claims. They sound great,
but are they really? [ ♪♪ ] [ Flight Attendant
Over Intercom ] >> To try to find out,
we head to New York City, one of the fashion
capitals of the world.

[ ♪♪ ] >> With jackets, you always
have to check the lining. >> Charlsie: Meet
Elizabeth Cline, an anti-fast fashion crusader. Because of what she knows,
she only wears used clothes. It's made her a pro at
assessing cast-offs. >> On a coat, the first thing
you would do is make sure the zippers work. Especially fast fashion, like a
lot of the fasteners will break and chip really quickly. >> Charlsie: We show her H&M's
marketing and ask her what she thinks about making new
clothes out of your old ones.

>> Shred it into fibers and
stitch it into something new. >> The reality is that currently
only about 1% of clothing is actually recycled and the
very literal sense of the word. >> Charlsie: 1%? >> 1%. >> Charlsie: 1%…is recycled? >> If you're talking about
recycling in terms of taking fibers and breaking them down
and turning them back into new fibers, it's 1%. >> Charlsie: Why is it so hard
to just take my old shirt and turn it into a new one, why
can't you just do is that? >> A lot of our clothes are made
out of blended fibers, so maybe this is acrylic and wool
and cotton mixed together, maybe my tights are
cotton and elastin, that makes it
difficult to recycle.

The other challenge is that when
you recycle cotton and wool, it diminishes the quality of
that material so it weakens the cotton and wool strand and
gives you a lesser product. >> Charlsie: Bottom line, the
technology just isn't there yet. It's way too expensive and
too time consuming to make new clothes
from old ones. >> It's also a more skeptical
side of me that knows that the reason why H&M is focusing on
textile recycling is because it's an easy
sustainability win for them. It doesn't involve them changing
their production model at all to collect clothes and make sure
that they get a second life. It doesn't make the fast fashion
system anymore sustainable. >> Charlsie: Experts agree fast
fashion needs to change if we really want to
make a difference.

Remember when fashion
had four seasons, winter, spring,
summer and fall? Now the trends
change almost every day. Here's how this Swedish
clothing giant CEO explains it. >> They have new garments coming
into the stores almost every day so if you go to an H&M store
today and come back two days later, you will always
find something new. >> Charlsie: H&M salespeople
tell us new clothes come in every Monday, Wednesday,
Friday, and Sunday. That works out to half a
billion products a year. And it's why H&M's recycling
campaign makes Claudia Marsales so mad. >> It really is a
form of greenwashing. >> Charlsie: She's the head
of Markham, Ontario's waste programs,
one of the few Canadian cities to actually ban
textiles from landfills.

>> In order for the fast fashion
outlets to recycle what they make, it would take
12 years to recycle what they sell in 48 hours. Like it's just– it's just–
so that sort of tells me it's really more about
foot traffic, marketing, greenwashing than about really
addressing the broken business model of fast fashion. >> Charlsie: We asked H&M to
come on camera and talk about their recycling program. They declined, assuring us
they don't want to encourage a throw-away attitude. Their clothes are good
quality and made to last. And they are working
towards a business model where, eventually, all their
clothes can be recycled. >> At least they're trying? >> Yes, well, but they're a
cause of the problem so fast fashion retailers, their
business model is the problem.

They're making too much,
they're selling it too cheap, it's disposable clothing. Doing a bit of back-end
recycling and a bit of commercials really
doesn't address that issue. [ ♪♪ ] >> Charlsie: And ask some
customers one of the things they love most about the program? It's the discount. That incentive to keep buying. >> I put it in the bin and
then they give me a discount, I saw it and it's like oh, snap. You know, um,
it's a way to, like, you know, like, help me and
help them at the same time.

digital marketing

>> Charlsie: What do you mean
when you say help you and help someone else? >> Um, help me by, you know,
saving money and help them by providing free
clothing for them. >> We just chuck it in
the bin and they did offer, like, a $5 discount. >> Charlsie: H&M might be
collecting your old clothes. More than 55,000 tonnes so far,
but if they're barely making new clothes from your
donations, where do they all go? These shoppers have a theory. Where do you think those
clothes go that you put in H&M? >> They probably go to,
like, people who need them, probably like shelters or other
places that use the clothes. >> Probably give it for free,
or something, to, like, the
people that need it. >> Charlsie: Where do
you think that stuff goes, what do you think happens to it? >> Hopefully to just
some needy people.

>> Yeah.
>> Mmm-hmm. >> Who still want
to be fashionable. >> Charlsie: Many of us think
our old clothes are given to the less fortunate. Wrong. And maybe you're telling
yourself that to feel better about buying more, too. Well, Cline coined
a term for this. [ ♪♪ ] >> Charlsie: What's the
clothing deficit myth? >> So, the clothing deficit myth
is the idea that when we give clothes to charity, they're
going to go to someone locally in our community in need.

But in the era of fast fashion,
there's far more unwanted clothes than there
are people in need. [ ♪♪ ] >> Charlsie: The Salvation Army
knows all about that. Remember, this is all the stuff
they can't sell at their stores. So what do they do
with all these leftovers? They sell it– to a middle man. And the retailers do the
same thing with all your donations, too. In Canada, H&M gives the money
it makes off your donations to UNICEF.

Here's the thing. All textiles are worth money. The stuff that's in really rough
shape is shredded for painter's cloths or insulation, for
example, then sold. But the majority of all donated
clothes are shipped overseas to developing countries
and they're sold there, too. Not donated or
given to needy people. And if you think that means
it's not going to end up in landfills, think again. We follow the trail of
your old tee-shirts. Around the world. >> The black stripes
here are from Canada. >> Charlsie: You can't
afford to miss this trip. This is your "Marketplace." [ ♪♪ ] >> Charlsie: The real
deal on your "Marketplace." [ ♪♪ ] >> Charlsie: We love
our clothes. Now so cheap, you can make a
different statement every day. These things are $3? $5. But they come with a huge cost. Part of the reason why
some fast fashion chains, like H&M, say they've got
recycling programs like this.

>> The Earth simply cannot bear
so many clothes ending their lives as waste. H&M has a far better answer. >> Charlsie: But we learnt less
than 1% of the world's used clothes are turned
into new ones. The majority of those donations
from retailer and charity bins are baled and sold overseas. [ ♪♪ ] >> This is Nairobi, Kenya, the
country at the top of the list when it comes to
buying your old clothes. Kenya is one of
Canada's best customers. In a given year, they buy more
than $20 million worth of our old clothes. >> All the rest with
the black stripes, the black stripes
here are from Canada. These are a variety
of kids clothing. This one is a jacket. Ladies tee-shirts. >> Charlsie: Maina Andrew
is a used clothing importer. >> People from
Canada and America, they are actually a bit huge. >> Charlsie: Scenes
like this aren't isolated. You'll see them all over Africa,
South and Central America.

A lot of this is stuff
Canadians donated for free, only for it to be sold here
for profit to vendors like Alice Nyansarora Anunda, who
brings it to her local market. They call the clothes,
"Mitumba." >> No, that one, it's
just a nickname we gave it, "Mitumba" means, "Old"
in our culture. >> Charlsie: Nearly
13,000 kilometres away. But take a closer
look and there they are. The names you know. AEO, Zara, Adidas, H&M. >> The way we open bales, we
know plans where there's new clothes, especially
those which come from Canada. >> Charlsie: But Andrew notices
many of the clothes are low quality, tough to sell. >> We just dump them. If people don't buy
them, we just dump them. [ ♪♪ ] >> They do go in
the piles of garbage, very many of them. >> Charlsie: He says this
happens regularly right behind the market, discarding and
burning clothes Canadians don't want and neither do Kenyans.

>> Sometimes they pack
even very old items. You can even pack items
that are not even good, and they end up dumping
them in Africa or in Kenya. [ ♪♪ ] >> Yeah, we burn them and it is
a lost work because we have already bought them. [ ♪♪ ] >> Charlsie: All those popular
brands in the crowded markets, Elizabeth Cline
has seen them, too. She's been to Kenya. >> There are a lot of different
companies around the world that are working on textile recycling
in the truest sense of the word, but it's really in
the very early stages. Whether it stays in the United
States or if it ends up in Africa, ultimately it is
going to end up in the landfill. >> Charlsie: We tell H&M
about this Kenyan market and all the fires.

They say its middle man
I:CO, which handles pickup and distribution of their bins,
has really high standards. But they are still working
on building a better tracking system so this
doesn't keep happening. >> Dumping is always cheaper. It's always the cheaper option. There's only one solution. The producer of the clothing
is responsible cradle to grave. So they make the tee-shirt,
they sell the tee-shirt, the tee-shirt comes back, they
have to recycle that tee-shirt. They can't put it in a
third world country. >> As far as South
Africa is concerned, we banned secondhand clothing. >> When a country
survives on secondhand things, secondhand clothes, it means
there's something wrong with that system. >> Threatening the survival of
the local textiles industry. >> Charlsie: And now many
of those countries are fighting back. East African countries sent
the world a message recently. They don't want our
hand-me-downs and tried to ban them. Their government said
it was destroying their own textile market. >> Secondhand clothes are
quite cheap and any manufactured textile would not be
able to compete with them.

>> Charlsie: And despite
everything you just watched, Cline says H&M group is a
frontrunner in sustainability efforts. >> Compared to other
brands, they are leaders. I don't know what that says
about the rest of the fashion industry, that a fast
fashion chain is at the top of that list. Just know that your textile
waste is an environmental issue. Textile waste in landfills
is one of the fastest growing categories of waste, and
it's such an easy thing to do something about. >> Charlsie: So what should you
do with all your old clothes? The answers, coming right up. Do you have a story you
want us to investigate? Write to us, [ ♪♪ ] >> The high cost of
fashion on your "Marketplace." Do you ever impulse buy? >> Absolutely. >> Charlsie: What was the last
thing you bought that now you see, and you're like,
"What was I thinking?" >> Clothing always.

>> Charlsie: On average, we buy
almost 70 clothing items every year. That means we're buying
new clothes every week. What did you buy? >> A lot of stuff. >> Charlsie: Did
you need anything? >> No. >> Charlsie: Just looking around
and you bought a few things. >> Yes, I bought lots of things. Leggings, shirts,
socks, underwear. >> Charlsie: Most of these
styles will end up trashed in landfill. Fast fashion is a big
part of the problem, but we don't have to buy in. So this is 50%
polyester, 50% cotton. It's really hard to separate
those fibers and make new stuff. >> You bet. >> Charlsie: Do you know how
many litres of water goes into making a single pair of jeans? Almost 4,000 litres.

>> Wow.
>> Whoo. >> That's crazy. [ ♪♪ ] >> Charlsie: And sometimes
just seeing the waste makes a difference. These families swear
they'll change their ways. >> They want to look
at the cute things, things that look good but
not necessarily good quality. >> We have to– we try to teach
them to use their stuff until it's worn out. >> Charlsie: Speaking of
waste and consumption, I've still got my bag of
clothes to get rid of. I don't really know where
the best place is to go with my stuff. And I think people at home who
see this are probably going to have the same question. >> Some people like
to swap the clothes, so that's the
first line of defence. If it's in really
good condition, you can take them to
a consignment store. You can also donate to
a reputable charity. Do your research on who
you're giving your clothing to. Don't buy so much. >> Charlsie: So bottom line,
when it comes to your used clothing, don't throw it away,
try and give it to somebody who can actually use it.

Hey, girls, does
anybody need a tee-shirt? No, you sure? Black dress pants? Hardly ever wore them. This is cool, right? Zipper in the back. >> I think I'm okay. >> Charlsie: Any chance you
want to return yours and take these ones. >> No, thank you. >> Charlsie: They're a
size small. I wore them, like, twice. >> No, thank you. >> Charlsie: No?
>> No. >> Charlsie: Do any of you need
a pair of pajama pants or know someone who might want these? >> I'll take them.
>> Charlsie: Tee shirt? >> I'll take them. >> Charlsie: Any chance
you want a pair of Levi's? >> Sure, size 6, me. >> Charlsie: Awesome!
>> Awesome. >> Charlsie: There you go
and they won't go to landfill this way. >> No. >> Charlsie: Maybe there is
no perfect solution to this complicated problem. But if there's something I've
learned throughout this process, it's that there is
something I can do and, for me, that will
mean buying less.

[ ♪♪ ] >> Announcer: A special, year
long Marketplace investigation. We go undercover,
inside nursing homes. >> I was… >> Announcer: Families
fighting for better care. >> Die, die… >> Woman: My poor mother. >> Announcer: Has long term care
reached a crisis point? >> Oh, we're
way past that. I think we've been
in crisis for years. >> If this happened
in a day care, that day care would be
shut down in five minutes. >> Announcer:
How to fight for better care, On the next Marketplace..

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