But it’s the t-shirts that are doing the tourism. Not you.
People love donating stuff they don’t use anymore to people who might be able to use them and it makes sense on a certain level (and sometimes can just flat out make sense). The problem is that when people take, say, one million t-shirts and donate them to the poor in developing countries, they’re making it impossible for that region to support a textile market. The same can be said of the TOMS shoes campaign which buys a pair of shoes for someone in the developing world for every pair of shoes bought here. Ideally, instead of sending over our old t-shirts or new shoes from here, we’d use that money to pay local producers to make shoes and shirts for their own people, encouraging local businesses.
And that’s why I love the idea behind Project Repat.
Here’s Project Repat’s mission statement:
Project Repat purchases amazing t-shirt castoffs from secondhand markets around the world, brings these spectacular t-shirts home with our team of volunteers, and then rebrands and resells the shirts in the United States in support of nonprofits active in the developing world. At Project Repat, we’re harnessing the power of your old t-shirt to support developing world markets far away and local nonprofits around the corner.
Basically, they go to developing countries that have been recipients of donated t-shirst, buy the shirst with trendy logos that refer to something obscure, or a sports team or whatever, then bring them back and sell them here while donating all profits to organizations that serve the people they bought the t-shirts from.
I do wonder a bit how cost-effective it can be to fly these t-shirts back but I guess if it’s done in the context of people traveling to these countries anyway, it could work out (anyone can find and donate the t-shirts to Project Repat). I definitely still a creative idea.
Here’s a video describing the project: