This is what the ban on secondhand goods means for the circular economy
The ban on secondhand phones undermines the fight for sustainability
Oct 16, 2019
Just recently, the city of Manila banned the selling of secondhand phones in order to prevent more stolen phones from being sold again. According to an article by Inquirer, Mayor Isko Moreno said that this is a measure that would stop robbers and snatchers around Manila if no one patronizes their scheme.
On the other hand, the commercial importation of secondhand clothes or ukay-ukay has been illegal since 1966. As stated in Republic Act 4653, this is to protect consumers from the possible health risks that could be acquired from these preloved clothes. But this proves to be hard to regulate since shipments of clothing disguised as donations still make it past customs and into ukay-ukay shops.
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At Fashion Revolution, we want to help unpack some key concepts of a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry. We’ll be sharing a series of definitions in collaboration with expert instagram dictionary-ist @entrylevelactivist to spread the knowledge. Throughout the series, we’ll feature some of the most inspiring thought leaders in our community. First up, @entrylevelactivist, herself: 🛒👕 THRIFT ♻️💵 “Thrift is the quality of using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully. “Although ‘thrifting’ (buying used clothes at a low price) is an ever-growing part of conscious fashion, the word isn’t exclusive to shopping alone. Originating from the Old Norse word for success(!), thriftiness can be defined as the opposite of being wasteful – regardless of resource. “While the environmental benefits of buying used clothing are becoming ever more apparent, many people worldwide have no choice but to thrift for their garments. Choosing to buy used is a privilege and this #SecondHandSeptember, let’s consider our conscious consumption choices in a global context” – @entrylevelactivist #FashionRevolution #WhoMadeMyClothes
Commercializing both pre-owned phones and clothes have brought other means of livelihood for some residents. Closing these down will not only affect them, but also the call towards saving the environment because buying preloved clothes is a more sustainable alternative and choosing to own a second phone puts a buffer on the demand for these electronic gadgets which vital parts consist of non-renewable mined metals.
It’s evident that our environment is suffering, which is why people are encouraged now more than ever to switch to sustainable ways or options of living.
One of the highest contributing factors to ecological waste is fast fashion. It was reported in 2017 that the European textile industry generates textile waste estimated at 9.35 million tons per year. In 2015, a total of 10.5 million tons of textiles were also found in America to have ended up in landfills.
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The BUYERARCHY, illustrated by @sarahlazarovic and featured in our zine issue 2, #lovedclotheslast, is the essence of what #FashionRevolution is all about. We are not here to shame shopping or bully brands, but to bring about a movement that considers the impact of our consumption, and uses the power of our collective voices to push brands and businesses to be better. Let’s remember to use what we have, borrow, swap, thrift, and make before we buy. And when we do buy, let’s start a dialogue with the brands we buy from, to encourage them to tell us #whomademyclothes?
The Philippines, on the other hand, being one of the top importers in Asia has South Korea as its primary source as of 2017. As new trends in fashion emerge, most consumers opt to buy more clothes to achieve these looks.
Another factor is consumerism that fuels demand for the newest models, prompting a delay to the production of these smartphones that require overseas labor, mining metals, etc. while older discarded units ultimately end up becoming electronic waste. In the data by the Global E-waste Monitor for 2017, approximately 50 million tons of e-waste per year is being discarded worldwide where only 20 percent is recycled.
The presence of this e-waste harms both the people and the environment. Its components not only pose a threat to our health like respiratory ailments but also the fact that it might be deposited in our landfills and release dangerous toxins when disposed improperly. This is why it’s strongly advised to properly dispose or at least reuse it to prevent more pollution.
On a macro scale, the circular economy promotes sustainability because unlike how a linear economy works—that’s rooted in the presumption of unlimited natural resources—it allows for materials to be maximized.
For example, selling preloved clothes allows for more ways to use that clothing than buying new mass-produced ones. In this way, we’re not only saving money but also preventing more waste. Also, reusing old cellphones are better than throwing it away because some people can still use it. By donating your smartphones that are still in good condition, you help a person to have access to communication technology, especially at an affordable price. In terms of recycling, the parts can be recovered to make new products—like its metals and plastic components—or use it to make other defective gadgets work.
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THE G7 FASHION PACT ⚠️ Last weekend, just ahead of the G7 Summit, French President Macron, along with 32 major fashion brands revealed the Fashion Pact, an industry wide movement aimed at aligning the fashion industry with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Right now on our blog, we’re unpacking what it’s all about, how it might spark change, and ultimately what it’s missing. Our cofounder @orsoladecastro along with our policy team’s @ilishiolovejoy and @siennalula discuss the pact and weigh it’s potential to affect change. Plus, they talk about the big elephant in the room (hint: it’s overproduction). Read it now on our blog, link in bio. #fashionrevolution #whomademyclothes
Moving towards a circular economy provides benefits for both the environment and the economy. By reusing or introducing a material back into the flow of economy, the production services are reduced prompting for lower sale prices that benefit the consumer and the business.
Recycling non-renewable e-waste such as electronics and batteries bring them back into the production cycle to be used for other means. It’s a way to reduce the pressure on the environment and to promote sustainability by securing the supply of our raw materials that will help the country in the long run.
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With over 100 billion clothing items pumped out factories every year and the fact that we hang onto our clothes a lot less longer and throw them away faster than we used to, why aren’t brands doing more to tackle waste and move towards a circular economy? Find out just how little major brands and retailers publish about their efforts to deal with textile and clothing waste in the new @fash_rev Fashion Transparency Index 2018. 🔎 Read it here: www.fashionrevolution.org/about/transparency #whomademyclothes #fashionrevolution
Taking away these secondhand goods affects not only the people who are dependent on it but most importantly, it disrupts the flow of the circular economy, thus taking a toll on the environment. These secondhand options benefit the people, the economy, and the environment—hitting three birds in one stone. Unless the government and corporations can provide more long-term and large scale sustainable solutions, what other choices can conscious consumers resort to?
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