How can we reconsider consumption, question production and rectify the injustice of waste?


LONDON, UK — june 2022

To extract from what isn’t ours, from what isn’t visible to us, from what doesn’t affect us, and what therefore, isn’t ours to take responsibility for—the phenomenon of not-in-my-backyard is rooted in the colonialist-casteist reality and mentality of using ‘the other’s’ land, body and breath as a dumping ground for oneself. 

These artworks use roughly 18 ounces of the 18.6 million tonnes of fashion waste produced globally per year. If this trend continues, over 150 million tonnes of clothing waste will clog landfills by 2050. The existence of unregulated landfills is violence. These mountains continue taking up space, resources and lives in countries with a history of being colonized, causing irreparable harm to the environment and people living in affected areas. These exist because waste circulates one way round the globe, from the Global North to the Global South, and one way within every country, including India, from the privileged to the oppressed. 

Invisibilized, underpaid women of color run the fashion industry. First, as garment workers making the product and later as waste pickers collecting it when it is discarded as trash. An industry marketed to empower women in actuality is built on capitalizing them.

“As Long As It Doesn’t Grow in My Backyard” is artist Rhea Gupte’s ask to the viewer to recognise the ongoing exploitation from white supremacy, the existence of waste colonialism and the caste based violence at the root of the fashion industry. There is an urgent need for a new culture around waste where the ones producing it take full responsibility for it, make amends for the harm caused and set new systems in place. 

Resources: The OR Foundation | Ellen Macarthur Foundation | The Slow Factory | Remake | Arte.TV | Circular Apparel Innovation Factory | | DW Planet A | Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy | Discard Studies | Fashion Revolution