Mitumba is a documentary that shows how second hand clothes markets work at a global scale. It unveils the multimillion dollar business of collecting used clothes in developed countries and selling them in empoverished countries in Africa.
By following the journey of a t-shirt coming from Europe, the filmmakers show the public all the places and people involved. It also present the harah relity of donations turned into businesses.
This film also highlights an interesting challenge to the circular economy, that of ethics. How do we design a system where re-use is done in such a way that doesn't undermine the dignity of it's consumers? But before we need to think why is it re-use or second-hand goods perceived as less quality, even insulting?
This is very complex issue tht goes beyond quality, it involves aesthetics, ethics and politics. Therefore we cannot think of the circular economy as just an environmental, technical callenge. It requires more than new technical solutions, it needs a redefinition of what is a good, what is desirable and what is not.
In a nutshell, the circular economy is not a problem of economists or environmentalists; it needs the input of social scientists, philosophers and politicians if it wants to deliver its transformative potential.
International trade negotiations are very strict about remanufactured and re-used goods. Countries fight hard to forbid them. What are the principles behind this position? What if we change them? But agai, to what?
These questions are not being addressed by circular economy advocates and they surely need to be adressed. They are uncomfortable ones because they challenge 50 years of politics and discourse creation.
How can we de-construct the linear economy discourse and replace it with one of circularity? Do we even understand all the places where linearity is embedded? This is quite a task. Is anyone thinking about it?
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