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Return to sender: Why Africa doesn’t need any more of your clothes

This story was originally posted by Greenpeace Africa.

For several years now, my country Ghana has been dealing with a silent plague: second-hand clothes. Behind its booming cocoa industry, vibrant culture and delicious food, this plague is choking our water bodies and toxifying our land. Why do I call them a plague? Because of the huge volumes of Western exports of discarded fast fashion. 

Ghana was once declared home to the world’s largest electronic waste dump, due to the tonnes of e-waste being dumped into the country. But many are not aware of the further burdens that wealthy countries, especially in Europe and North America, continue to place on us. 

For those reading this and living in the West, have you ever considered what actually happens to your clothing when you donate them? And do you assume donations end up in your home town or city? Well to answer that question – a lot of it comes to cities in Africa like Accra, flooding our flea markets before choking our rivers and lagoons, polluting our beaches and destroying marine life in our ocean – places they really shouldn’t be.

Second-hand clothes have long been important to Ghana’s local economy. Kantamanto market in Accra, established in the 1970s, is one of the largest second-hand markets in the world, with over 30,000 workers who sell, clean, repair and upcycle the Global North’s textile waste. But the growth of fast fashion since the 2000’s has led to increasing quantities of poorer quality clothing, and

Kristin Juszczyk’s clothing line doesn’t stand alone in NFL fashion

In February for Black History Month, USA TODAY Sports is publishing the series “29 Black Stories in 29 Days.” We examine the issues, challenges and opportunities Black athletes and sports officials continue to face after the nation’s reckoning on race following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. This is the fourth installment of the series.

This week Kiya Tomlin posted a message on TikTok and her words, despite such a short video, said so much.

“Kiya Tomlin here,” she started. “Wife of 27 years to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. So all this talk about where is all the really cool licensed NFL apparel for women. I just have to say: Been here, been doing that.”

The video then switched to images of women wearing Tomlin’s NFL inspired designs. The message was powerful and clear.

“After seeing all the commotion about Taylor Swift,” Tomlin said in an interview with USA TODAY Sports, “I just wanted to say, ‘I’m here. I’ve been doing this. Here’s my work.'”

SUPER BOWL CENTRAL: Latest Super Bowl 58 news, stats, odds, matchups and more.

I’m the guy who wears his pajamas into the grocery store so fashion isn’t my thing but by all accounts Tomlin’s designs, including her NFL licensed apparel, are stylish, and high quality. Also, her track record in this space is lengthy, starting in 2014, and she says her products are cut and sewn in America. She’s a small business success story.

So why have so few people heard of what she’s doing? That’s a great question and the answer is nuanced. But it cannot be answered without the context of the story of Kristin Juszczyk.

She is the wife of 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Kristin, too, started a clothing line and like Tomlin, she was able to get

Women’s apparel doesn’t have enough pockets. This expert says that has to change

The Current22:37The patriarchy of pockets

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Women only want one thing: deep pockets, and lots of them. 

At least, that’s according to design expert Hannah Carlson, who says women have rallied for pocket equity for centuries. 

This notorious lack of pockets in women’s clothing prompted her to write Pockets: An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close

Carlson, who also teaches dress history and material culture at the Rhode Island School of Design, digs deep into the history of the pocket, and the cultural significance it has in women’s lives. 

“They’ve agitated with much earnestness, you know — ‘give us pockets,'” she said. “And it’s just astonishing that it’s been this long. And I think that reveals quite a lot.”

In this book jacket image, a woman's upper body and chin is seen. She is wearing a blazer with a large red pocket, on which is printed the book's title Pockets: An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close.
Carlson is the author of Pockets: An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close. (Hachette Book Group)

Carlson points out that in menswear, pockets are expected, while in womenswear they’re not. 

Suits handily delivered on the expectation of pockets. The suit “evolved early as a uniform” for men, and its production — pockets and all — became industrialized sooner as fewer tailors began making them by hand. 

But women’s clothing continued to be handmade until around 1920, says Carlson. And eventually, women began carrying tie-on pockets underneath their skirts. 

“As women’s modern dress evolves, there’s this expectation that women will carry handbags,” she said. 

A pink handbag is seen hanging from a person's forearm.
Pocket inequity stems in part from an expectation that women will carry their belongings externally in handbags, says Carlson. (CBC)

Hayley Gibson, founder of clothing line Birds of North America in Toronto, says women are often burdened by that expectation of carrying their belongings externally. 

“It’s become such a tradition for women to carry an external bag of some sort,” she said. 

“I can’t help but think that it’s

Leong: Health care doesn’t only cost money, it costs time

We need a better sense of how many Canadians can’t access health care because of delays even before they reached the medical system

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Albertans have long contended with queues in health care, with delays in medical testing and diagnostics making the news recently alongside the whole Dynalife fiasco.

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