No More Fast Fashion Lab
2021-Present | Active
A community center and circularity lab located in the heart of Accra, adjacent to Kantamanto Market, the No More Fast Fashion Lab for Community Design operates on cycles where we choose one material/garment type leaving Kantamanto as waste to investigate. With a team of designers and fabricators from within the Kantamanto Ecosystem along with artists-in-residence and apprentices from our Kayayei programming, we work to catapult innovations around circular product design, waste management solutions and skills training.

Read More

In tandem with our other initiatives we opened a community center and circularity lab in September 2021 located in the heart of Accra, adjacent to Kantamanto Market, in order to catapult innovations around circular product design, waste management solutions and skills training. The lab functions on cycles four to six months long where we choose one material/garment type from the waste stream to investigate. We purchase waste from Kantamanto, diverting several hundred pounds a month from landfilling or open dumping, and we collect several data points before sorting the waste by fiber composition and durability standards to determine what can be done with the materials. The lab space features sewing technology and an industrial textile shredder based on open-source designs and modeled on our initial pilot scale version that our team installed in a pop-up shop in early 2020, pre-COVID. We are currently building additional tools such as a heat press and manual washing machines. Utilizing these tools we are able to re-contextualize the waste, creating useful materials, products and feedstock, while also gaining valuable insight into the labor that is necessary to build a Justice-led circular textiles economy.

Through our direct engagement with the waste stream and our ongoing research in Kantamanto we are also gaining greater insight into the per garment cost to “manage the waste” within the current system, as well as the per garment cost to transition “waste” to “resource” or “feedstock” for the circular economy. This has given us a tangible understanding of what is possible locally and globally and what policies are necessary to support a just transition to the circular economy.

The lab also serves as a community center. Retailers and tailors participate in the upcycling and recycling process. We host dialogue sessions, film screenings and exhibitions about sustainability and circularity with stakeholders across the market. We are currently launching a hybrid residency program (virtual and physical) and crafting curricula to more formally engage community members across a variety of backgrounds, from university students and established entrepreneurs to women working as Kayayei and street hawkers, as well as international designers and brands in circular product design and material transformation. Ultimately offering public demonstrations as well as design competitions and incubator-style funding and mentorship, our aim is to spark investment ready solutions from within the informal economy of Ghana’s secondhand clothing trade.

The Mabilgu Programs
2021-Present | Active
We offer a structured and paid apprentice placement program with local designers, artists and business professionals to provide immediate relief and alternative economic opportunities for young women and girls living in dire conditions and working as Kayayei. In addition, we also offer direct skills training through positions within our No More Fast Fashion Lab. As part of our wraparound support for apprentices and our broader community outreach efforts, we also host classes on reproductive health and financial literacy.

Read More

To provide immediate relief and alternative economic opportunities for young women and girls living in dire conditions and working as Kayayei, we have organized a structured and paid apprentice placement program with local designers, artists and business professionals. This six-month to year-long program trains young women in marketable skills, provides a living wage income and builds bridges and mentorship networks across communities frequently divided by different regional and socioeconomic backgrounds within Ghana. As part of the apprenticeship program participants are encouraged to save a minimum of one third of their pay, ensuring that they have money to start their own business. The Mabilgu Program (meaning ‘sisterhood’ in Dagbani) includes a monthly class on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, women’s rights, workplace safety and various sustainability practices. We are also working to extend these classes to a broader community of young women outside of our apprenticeship program.

In addition to placing apprentices with other companies, we also offer direct skills training through positions within our No More Fast Fashion Lab. Apprentices in our lab learn to upcycle and recycle textile waste and attend courses on photography and media production. Not only does this programming provided a safe space for young women working as Kayayei to gather and learn new skills, these weekly storytelling workshops counter the dearth of female identifying photographers and cinematographers in Ghana who are vital to telling the stories of the women working as Kayayei, a necessary element to address the injustices and abuse that the young women and girls frequently face. Photographs and stories from some of our photography training alums were featured in Display Copy magazine, and we are currently working with other media partners focused on slow and inclusive journalism.

2020-Present | Active
The Secondhand Solidarity Fund aims to leverage the growing movement for secondhand clothing and circularity in the Global North to support the communities on the frontlines in times of crisis. As an organization we contribute any speaking fees and media publication payments to this fund. We are now calling on businesses operating in the secondhand space, be those resale platforms or clothing collectors and exporters in the Global North, to step up in solidarity with the community that actually drives their bottom line.

Read More

During Accra’s pandemic lockdown in April of 2020 we mobilized our social media community to raise US $20,000 for the Kayayei Youth Association to provide food for over 18,000 young women and girls working as Kayayei in Accra. When a fire destroyed the shops and inventory of hundreds of Kantamanto’s retailers and tailors in December of 2020, our community rallied once again and raised over US $20,000, which we distributed as grants to the individuals impacted by the fire. Building on this work we decided to make our Secondhand Solidarity Fund public in order to enable brands, resale platforms, thrifters, citizens and partner organizations to donate directly to the Kantamanto community.

For decades Kantamanto’s retailers and Kayayei have labored in the service of sustainability, recirculating far more clothes than any resale platform in the Global North, and yet they have received essentially no investment. There is no bailout for a bad bale. A fire or a week in COVID lockdown can mean starvation or debtors’ prison. The Secondhand Solidarity Fund aims to leverage the growing movement for secondhand clothing and circularity in the Global North to support the communities on the frontlines in times of crisis. As an organization we contribute any speaking fees and media publication payments to this fund and we call on businesses operating in the secondhand space, be those resale platforms or clothing collectors and exporters in the Global North, to step up in solidarity with the community that actually drives their bottom line.

Contribute and find out more via

2022-Present | Active
We launched a position paper and the website to advocate for Globally Accountable Extended Producer Responsibility for Textiles and to build the bridges for self-representation with Kantamanto delegations sharing perspectives with policy makers at a pivotal moment for future industry frameworks. We are calling on citizens, brands and institutions to stand in solidarity with the Kantamanto Community and global secondhand markets by endorsing the paper to stop the EU from writing Waste Colonialism into law.

Read More

The Or Foundation is the facilitator of the Stop Waste Colonialism Campaign, but the Kantamanto Community is the driving force. Kantamanto is demanding to be heard. A Justice-led Transition to Circular Textiles Economy must prioritize the prosperity of the people who have been made most vulnerable by the linear economy. The Stop Waste Colonialism campaign is based on three key principles:

Kantamanto and Global Secondhand Markets Do Circularity
Every Garment Is Waste Until Proven Otherwise
Waste Should Not Transit Borders Without Accompanying EPR Funding

Our position paper is the result of 5 years of field research, global literature review and participation in various research groups, and is a proposal for an improved EPR scheme for Textiles based on the framework of:

  • Internalizing Cost of Waste Management with eco-modulated fees starting at US $0.50 per newly produced garment.
  • Making EPR globally accountable by supporting every stage of the reverse supply chain, including global reuse markets where final sorting and preparation for reuse determine the fate of each individual garment.
  • Disclosing production volumes to drive Circularity toward a reduction of new production by 40%.

We call on policy makers to design EPR Policies that Prioritize Our Reality and Our Understanding Of Waste. We call on institutions to endorse our position paper as an allied organization. We call on brands & retailers to disclose their production volumes. We call on citizens to sign our petition and demand that brands speak volumes. We are actively meeting with members of the EU Commission and continuing to engage decision makers in France and in the US. In November 2022 & May 2023 we traveled to Europe with a delegation of tailors and retailers from Kantamanto Market to advocate for a Globally Accountable EPR scheme for Textile.

Learn more about our campaign on

2023 | Active
Imagine a future where the beach is clean and the waters clear, where fishing nets catch fish, and not trash, where the Korle Lagoon is swimmable again. With the stage set by decades of Waste Colonialism and centuries of exploitative global trade, we launched a 40-day swimming expedition of the Volta River System, which gives life to millions of people in Ghana and throughout West Africa, in order to will this future into existence one stroke at a time through a public campaign, scientific research and environmental storytelling along the way.
Kayayei Research & Chiropractic Care
2021-Present | Active
While women working as Kayayei (female head carriers) are currently vital to the flow of goods in Kantamanto Market, the conditions that most women and girls working as head carriers face within Accra’s markets can make their job deadly. We are examining the causes, conditions and effects of the Kayayei trade and working with an Accra-based chiropractor to study the physiological impact of headcarrying in order to develop remedies across policy frameworks, infrastructure design and cultural appeals.

Read More

In conjunction with our chiropractic partner, Dr. Naa Asheley Dordor of Nova Wellness Center, we are coordinating an extensive study on head carrying, with 100 women who work as Kayayei in Kantamanto market receiving extensive evaluations, X-rays and health screenings. We are also supporting our chiropractic partner, Dr. Dordor, and the study participants, to continue with chiropractic care if so desired. The results of this study will be contextualized academically and published both domestically and internationally in publicly accessible formats. We are working to place the majority of study participants into apprenticeships, enabling them to leave the Kayayei trade for safer and more dignified jobs. In addition to providing treatment and alternative employment pathways we are engaging a broad range of stakeholders in our advocacy efforts. Since November 2021 we have been working with Kantamanto leadership, retailers and tailors to secure their support for ending the headcarrying of bales. From January to March 2022 we are engaging Accra-based media and traveling to Northern Ghana to engage elders within the communities from which many of the girls migrate. Beginning in March we will launch an international advocacy campaign that will continue along with our local advocacy until 2023 as we build on the research to develop the necessary policy and infrastructural changes.

2020-Present | Active
With an array of partners, we conduct research, advocacy and community engagement work around the environmental, socio-cultural and economic impacts of fashion’s waste crisis in order to manifest tangible interventions to clean up the mess and to break the exploitative patterns of the colonial legacy embedded within the secondhand trade. As key elements of this work our Beach Monitoring Team tracks ocean textiles along Accra’s coast and we coordinate with waste pickers at area dumpsites to platform voices from the frontlines of circularity.
2016-Present | Active
An immersive, multimedia research project into Accra, Ghana's Kantamanto Secondhand Clothing Market as both a global model for circularity and a manifestation of global injustice. Conducted to inform individual actions and policy frameworks, and to serve as a platform for community organizing.

Read More

Although nearly everyone dealing in secondhand clothes today knows that most of the clothing is originally given away by people who are still alive, the Twi phrase Obruni Wawu is still employed to describe secondhand clothing in Ghana. This phrase translates to Dead White Man’s Clothes and for us it speaks to the absurdity of the waste that we, as a society, create as a byproduct of our exploitative overconsumption and overproduction. Abundance and excess are not the same thing. Overconsumption is not a burden carried entirely by the consumer. Overproduction is not a burden carried entirely by the producer. These phenomena are interconnected and affect all of us, regardless of our role or our position in the global North or South. Kantamanto Market and the dumpsites surrounding Accra are specific areas where the impacts of this cycle are greatly evident, but so too are the malls of America and the High Streets of Europe.

Our research based on hundreds of surveys and interviews and thousands of hours of observation and garments sorted since 2016 has shown that roughly 40% of the millions of items that pass through Kantamanto Market every week leave the market as waste. These hundreds of thousands of garments on a daily basis represent one of the largest consolidated sources of waste in the city of Accra. And they are just the tip of the iceberg in relation to the global crisis of fashion’s waste. As an organization we have played a leading role in documenting many of the widespread impacts of this waste.

Just as the amount of waste is staggering, so too is the effort to recirculate clothing. Kantamanto is the world’s largest reuse hub. 30,000 people work to add value to garments through sorting and merchandising, remanufacturing, tailoring, screen printing, washing, ironing and dying, among the nearly countless tasks of transformation that are performed to recirculate roughly 25 million garments a month, far more than any dedicated digital clothing resale platform in the Global North. The many lessons of craft of use that are found throughout Kantamanto are the very lessons that we, as a society, must learn if we are to end fashion’s waste crisis.

To consider the impacts of the secondhand clothing trade within Kantamanto Market and across Ghana and West Africa more broadly calls for the consideration of global supply chains and socioeconomic systems, systems indeed spawned by the White Man.

Today Kantamanto Market, located in the center of the city of Accra, operates with high speed internet in the pocket of nearly every trader and with an increasing number of malls reminiscent of suburban USA offering new shopping experiences around the sprawling city and suburbs of Accra. These new technologies and developments are changing the decades-old secondhand clothing trade. Entrepreneurs scout out the best items from various market traders in order to sell at a markup on Instagram. Younger and wealthier customers spend time in the air conditioned malls. Whether or not they spend their money in the malls, the market scene of organized chaos that dominates Kantamanto Market is no longer the only place to buy European style clothes or to do business. How Accra as a society comes to balance the various tensions behind this evolving landscape is an important indicator of the city’s future both ecologically and economically and is a focus of our current work.

2018-Present | Active
In partnership with the University of Cincinnati’s School of Design, SFI represents a coalition of students and professionals working to develop a hyper-localized circular economy and to educate on sustainability and social inequality. SFI has reduced the textile waste from UC’s fashion design program by 70%, and is assisting local businesses to do the same. SFI hosts clothing swaps, mending circles, panels and workshops. SFI has published extensive research on unpaid internships and has supported the development of an anti-racism curriculum.
Collectofus 2.0
2020-Present | Active
Engages emerging designers in a peer-based object-exchange curriculum focused on removing marketing from the designer-to-consumer relationship, rethinking sustainability rhetoric and researching the accessibility of bespoke tailoring services. Designers are offered micro-grants to make a bespoke garment for a stranger on the internet using garment co-construction as a vehicle for sustainable relationships, learning and financial literacy.
2016-2019 | Inactive
Fashion’s impact can be difficult to understand, let alone measure. At the same time we put clothing on our bodies every single day. What can we learn from tracking our daily usage of clothing? What questions arise when we gather information from our own closets? AllSix is a platform and app that invites users to begin every day with an acknowledgment of their garments history and their patterns as a wearer.
2017 | Inactive
Inspired by the words of Rana Plaza survivor Reba Sikder, For Their Memory is a music video and fundraising project honoring the 1,138 people who died in the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza fashion factory and the other countless lives lost to the violence of overproduction and overconsumption.
2011-2016 | Inactive
An object-based exchange initiative that disrupts common notions of globalized trade. Grounded in the tangible experience of making & receiving an item of clothing from their peers abroad, students compare this method of connection with the dominant model of trade. Collectofus culminates in student-led design justice projects that have included dye gardens, redesigning school apparel and building solar charging stations. Collectofus has engaged over 20 partner institutions and 1,500+ students.
2012-2015 | Inactive
Students engage with the realities of their local thrift store and donation system. Tasked with taking garments that were donated in undignified condition and transforming them into clothing that bring joy to the wearer, students learn to sew, dye and construct clothing with purpose while also thinking critically about the dominant narrative surrounding clothing poverty. Hundreds of students across the USA have participated in Minimakers.
Not Just Soccer 2.0
2015 | Inactive
Fostering a social guidebook and resilient community support systems through sport, this project updated an innovative community game in Mabatlane, or Vaalwater, Limpopo, South Africa through the Waterberg Welfare Society.
2011-2016 | Inactive
A year-long interdisciplinary curriculum for K-12 students exploring colonization and globalization through the lens of the fashion industry – past, present and speculative. Grounded in the study of their own closets, the curriculum teaches students how to “read objects” as part of a larger mission to “read the world” – a mission inspired by Paulo Freire’s decolonizing pedagogy. This curriculum has been incorporated into over 20 educational institutions across the USA, Ghana and South Africa.
2011-2012 | Inactive
Students are invited to recycle their single-use tees, and other garments, into backpacks in collaboration with Ghanaian seamstresses and tailors. The backpacks were priced by students to reflect their valorization matrix and sold to benefit an organization of their choice.
(Sustainable) Fashion's Night Out
2011 | Inactive
Produced in Partnership with Manhattan’s Textile Arts Center, the NYC Fair Trade Coalition and EcoSalon, the first ever (Sustainable) Fashion’s Night Out and LookBook featured fair trade, upcycled and slowly crafted garments, and asked the evening's guests to engage beyond the price tag.