Why your recycled clothing is destined for the trash; rental scams on the rise: CBC’s Marketplace cheat sheet

Miss something this week? Don’t panic. CBC’s Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

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Fashion retailers promote sustainable clothing — so why is so much of our stuff still ending up in the garbage?

Why recycled clothing isn’t as green as you think

Featured VideoWith phrases like ‘less waste in the world’ recycled clothing sounds like a great idea. But the latest CBC Marketplace investigation reveals that might not be the case.

Retail brands have gone to great lengths to satisfy growing consumer demand for sustainable clothing, but many of the companies’ labels and claims do not stand up to scrutiny, particularly when it comes to recycled materials.

CBC’s Marketplace found a number of products labelled as recycled or made with recycled materials selling at five top Canadian retailers in the Toronto area. The items were available in-store and online across the country.

While clever marketing may lead consumers to believe their new shoes or clothes are made entirely from old ones, that’s simply not the case, says George Harding-Rolls, advocacy director for Eco-Age, a U.K.-based sustainability agency. 

“We’re awash in a sea of green claims that are incredibly difficult to decipher,” said Harding-Rolls. In a report for the Changing Markets Foundation called Synthetic Anonymous, he reviewed some 4,000 products from 12 online brands and found that 59 per cent of green claims are unsubstantiated or misleading. Many of those claims were tied to recycled polyester.

Experts say less than one per cent of the world’s fashion waste is currently recycled in the truest sense of the word and almost all of the recycled polyester fashion brands use is made from old plastic bottles.

“If you’re using plastic bottles, you’re actually taking bottles out of a potentially closed-loop recycling system, and then giving them a one-way ticket to a landfill disposal,” Harding-Rolls said. Read more

You can watch Marketplace’s latest investigation, “Exposing the Secrets of Sustainable Fashion,” anytime on CBC Gem.  

$950 for an apartment? A steal if it’s real, but an Ontario man is now just one of the latest scam victims

A man with a beard sits on the front steps of a house.
Chris Norris said he thought he found an affordable rental on Facebook marketplace, but it turned out to be a scam. (Marc Doucette/CBC)

Chris Norris is running out of time to find somewhere to live. 

He needs to be out of his rental in Thunder Bay, Ont., by the end of October, and being on long-term disability means his budget is tight. It’s even tighter now, after falling prey to a scammer who took a $400 deposit from him for an apartment that wasn’t real. 

“It was very defeating — you’re out that money, you’re not going to get that money back, there’s no recourse,” Norris said. 

Rental scams are becoming more common across Canada, according to anti-fraud interests, and scammers are rarely held accountable.

The scam against Norris took place on Facebook, when someone responded to his ad looking for a rental. They offered a unit for $950 a month all inclusive, which is a good deal in Thunder Bay’s rental market, so Norris felt he needed to do whatever it took to sign that lease.

“I got to jump the gun and make sure I’m doing everything I can to secure a place,” said Norris. “I desperately need a place because my landlord is selling where I am right now.”

After paying the $400 deposit, the person started asking for more money, which made Norris suspicious. When he went to the house for a viewing, he found someone living there who said the apartment was definitely not for rent. When Norris tried to contact the person offering the unit, they blocked him on Facebook, leaving him out $400. 

If you are looking for an apartment, here are some helpful tips from the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario and Interac’s Cyber Market Intelligence and Financial Crimes centre.

Red flags to look for in rental ads:

  • Seems “too good to be true” (i.e., below market rent, low price for a “luxury” unit).
  • Ad lacks specific information about the location or seems generic.
  • Advertiser is unable to show apartment in person, provides excuses.
  • Advertiser tries to create sense of urgency and requests money before showing the unit.
  • Requests payment by wire transfer, bitcoin.

Resources if you’ve been the victim of a rental scam:

  • Report fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre on their website or by calling 1‑888-495-8501.
  • Contact your bank or the vendor you used to send the money.
  • Alert Service Canada to ensure personal information provided such as SIN aren’t used fraudulently at 1-866-274-6627. Read more 

She worked full time and after monthly bills, there was $9 left for food

Steph Finlayson posted on TikTok about her struggles to cover monthly expenses, even with a decent job and while living frugally.
Steph Finlayson posted on TikTok about her struggles to cover monthly expenses, even with a decent job and while living frugally. (Submitted)

It was a selfie video recorded and posted in a moment of extreme frustration. 

Stephanie Finlayson of Woodstock, Ont., had been going over her monthly budget, trying to find a way to cover costs from food and insurance to fixing or replacing her 2005 Honda Accord.

The car, which she’s still driving, has a leaky radiator and 377,000 kilometres on the odometer. It needs more work, but her mechanic doesn’t recommend she put more money into it. He was also worried its creaky frame might not survive another trip up the hoist at his shop.

After running some numbers and having a conversation with her father about her financial situation, Finlayson put the phone on the dash and pushed record. 

“I worked eight and a half hours today, knowing that it’s not enough. It won’t be enough,” she said in the video while fighting back tears.  

Finlayson posted the video in September. It now has more than 9,100 shares, 64,000 likes and almost 18,000 comments. 

“I posted it on TikTok but I didn’t think anybody would see it,” she said. 

In the video, Finlayson, 42, tearfully explains that her fixed monthly bills are $2,701 against an income of $2,710. 

“Do the math,” she said on the video. “Nine dollars a month before I pay for food.”

She feels her video surfaced a situation many Canadians are dealing with, but few are willing to speak about.

“People can relate,” she said. “People are afraid to speak up and say ‘Hey, I’m struggling.'” Read more

What else is going on?

Canada’s interest rate is steady…for now
The Bank of Canada is keeping its benchmark interest rate steady at five per cent, but warns more increases are possible.

33 U.S. states are suing Meta for making social media addictive to kids
The lawsuit alleges Meta has features aimed at teens despite knowing harm they cause.

United Airlines has launched a new boarding system
By boarding window seats first, then middle, then aisles, the airline says they save about two minutes per flight.

Marketplace needs your help!

Someone looking at a reciept in front of a cart full of groceries.
(David Abrahams)

Is your wallet feeling the effects of the “singles tax?” Do you feel like you’re paying more because you’re rolling solo? We want to hear all about it. Send us your examples: marketplace@cbc.ca

A car is parked in front of pylons.
(David Abrahams/Shutterstock)

Attention new drivers! We’d like to hear about your driving school experiences. Send us your stories: the good, the bad and the bizarre to: marketplace@cbc.ca

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