How do you Sustain Your City? – First, we #STRUT – Part I

Renewables in Africa
Photo by Arihant Daga on Unsplash

This week, entrepreneur Chiedozie Dinobi shares his life’s work, Sustain Your City. Every RiA’der should take note on how to sustain their city after reading this brilliant article!


Why do you need to Sustain Your City, and what is #STRUT? Here are the main takeaways:

  1. Cities connect us to them and to each other here is why we need to Sustain Your City;
  • Each city having its own unique story
  • Cities are economic powerhouses with the allure of a brighter future for all.
  • Cities are exciting!
  1. More and more of us will move our lives to a City in the years to come; our cities must be able to cope.
  2. #STRUT is a Sustain Your City program that puts the spotlight on Sustainable products, practices and ideas;
  • Sustain Your City will put them to the test through our networks and provide useful feedback to facilitate their market penetration, alter consumer habits and accelerate sustainable consumption patterns in your city.
  • The first of the #STRUT projects features the fashion and apparel industry.



Greetings my friends, fellow Africans and my people from all over the world. I am Chiedozie Dinobi, a proud African. My origins can be traced to the south-eastern state of Anambra in Nigeria; however, I was born in Lagos; the then Federal and subsequently Commercial capital of Nigeria. I am grateful for the Renewables in Africa platform and the opportunity to bring to you my ultimate calling, my life’s work and raison d’être; Sustain Your City.

Figure 1: Sustain Your City

If like me you have an emotional connection to cities where you grew up, lived, worked, or even just visited for a brief vacation; or maybe you have not, and your connection stems only from the awe of the city’s history, culture or grand design that is told through bountiful stories that effuse from every corner of the modern marvels we call cities; then you can connect to my cause. Every city has a special ability to create strong emotional bonds with us, with each city having its own unique story, style and economic allure of a brighter future. Cities are exciting!


For my fellow Lagosians out there, I know you recognize why we must Sustain Lagos, it is our motto… say it with me… Èkó ò ní bàjé ooooo! (English: Lagos cannot spoil ooooo).


Figure 2: Nairobi, Kenya (McKinsey)

McKinsey Global Institute – Urban world: Mapping the economic power of cities

Today only 600 urban centres generate about 60 percent of global GDP. While 600 cities will continue to account for the same share of global GDP in 2025, this group of 600 will have a very different membership. Over the next 15 years, the centre of gravity of the urban world will move south and, even more decisively, east.



We have grand plans for Sustain Your City, and in “Part 2” of this article we profile our maiden shared principles project; #STRUT –  Sustainable Testing and Reviews, Used to Transform.

Through #STRUT projects the spotlight will be on Sustainable products, practices and ideas. We as Sustain Your City will put them to the test through our networks and provide useful feedback to facilitate their market penetration, alter consumer habits and accelerate sustainable consumption patterns in your city. The first of the #STRUT projects features the fashion and apparel industry.


Figure 3: Photo: Matthew Spiteri on Unsplash

As you read this, somewhere in Africa a very beautiful gesture is happening. A gesture recognized the world over, and in Africa it symbolizes a rite of passage for every one of us. Clothes and other apparel once treasured by someone is being given away and received gratefully; to be used and treasured by others.


The formal and informal culture of giving away clothes and other apparel has existed in African households forever. Informally referred to as “hand me downs”, people everywhere can relate to this widespread practice. The act of recycling clothes and apparel which comes from a thrifty mind set, has always been a very powerful medium for recycling clothes. A much-needed corrector in a fashion industry that is ranked the No.2 dirtiest industry in the world.


In fact, the practice of recycling clothes and apparel is not new to the African market place either. In Rwanda, it is chagua. In Kenya, mitumba. In Zambia, salaula. In Nigeria, okrika. All refer to the recycling of bails received from organizations and businesses dedicated to collecting unwanted clothes in developed economies like Canada, USA, and UK, among many others, where people have developed fast fashion lifestyle choices and shortened the active life cycle of clothes and apparel. Much of this waste ends up in the African market “bend-down-select” markets.


In other words, a lot of the recycling of fast fashion lifestyles in advanced economies is being done in Africa, by Africans. So much so, that recently countries in the Eastern African Community are considering a ban on imports of these second-hand clothes.


Figures 4: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In African nations, imported second-hand clothing is an economic driver and a big business. Today in Uganda, for example, second-hand garments account for over 80% of all clothing purchases. Kenya receives an estimated $4.8 million in import duties annually from second-hand clothing. The huge second-hand clothing market also creates many jobs…

East Africa imported $151 million of second-hand clothing last year, most of which was collected by charities and recyclers in the UK, Europe and North America. According to Oxfam, more than 70% of the clothes donated globally end up in Africa. In 2015 Kenya for example imported about 18,000 tonnes of clothing from Britain valued at around $42 million.


Figure 5: Photo: Dami Akinbode on Unsplash

The East African Community (EAC), which represents Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda and makes up a significant chunk of the reuse market from North America, has proposed banning second-hand clothing imports.

“What we have chosen to do is focus on efficiency inside of our stores to compensate for that,” Tony Shumpert said, “figuring out how to drive merchandise in our stores that has a higher yield.”


It is indeed a complex case, and that is where project #STRUT can help. At Sustain Your City, we realize the subtle connection that exists between global issues, and we specialize in the complex design and implementation of sustainable solutions that cater for such nuances and situations. The African “hand me down” tradition is the springboard for the first #STRUT project in Africa. In the next edition of this article we explore how we will bring #STRUT to Africa.


We need you. We want to bring #STRUT to your city. So, get in touch, join the Sustain Your City network and engage. We would love to discover how we can all Sustain Your City.

e-mail –

Facebook – Sustain Your City

Twitter – @CitySustain

Dozie Dinobi

Founder – Sustain Your City


  1. Business of Fashion Blog –
  3. McKinsey Global Institute –


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