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The Negative Impact of Fast Fashion: A Pile of Waste in Ghana

The Negative Impact of Fast Fashion: A Pile of Waste in Ghana

By Dankwa Prince

Ghana’s Accra Ghana’s main and largest city, Accra, is lined by mountains of abandoned clothing along its streets and rivers. Many of the dresses, shirts and trousers are scattered throughout, tragically blowing in the breeze. Many of them still have tags and stains on them. The fast fashion business and the well-meaning but misplaced donations from charities in the UK and other Western countries are directly to blame for this startling level of waste.

Donations of used clothing were once a useful way to recycle clothing, but now days, the amount of goods being transported to Ghana is much more than what the people there can utilise or recycle. It is estimated that the nation receives more than 100 million pounds of discarded garments annually. That being said, Ghanaians often only use 30–40% of those things. The remainder becomes rubbish and contaminates nearby neighbourhoods and waterways.

Ghana, which imports the most amount of used items, has turned into a landfill for excess fast fashion. Donations of used clothing are quite profitable for charities; each year, they send containers full of leftovers to West Africa, earning millions of dollars. However, the nation’s unofficial economy, which is centred on repairing and reselling worn clothing, is in ruins. The flood has overwhelmed traders who earlier made a fortune by sifting through donations and selling what they could not keep up with.

“Before, we would receive shipments once a month. Now it is every week and more than we can handle,” says Samuel, a clothing trader in the bustling market district of central Accra. “Much of it is rags already, torn and stained beyond repair. It is filling up the lagoons,seas and streets instead of our stalls.” James town beach being one of the affected places.

The effects on health are likewise becoming more severe. As they decompose, stagnant heaps of synthetic fabrics emit harmful substances like lead and mercury into the environment and encourage the growth of bacteria. The deadly malaria epidemic that has swept the nation is partly due to mosquitoes that are flourishing in the waste products of fast fashion.

Some activists are urging fast fashion companies and NGOs to own up to the disaster they’ve made in Ghana and other recipient countries as the situation deepens. “We all must reduce and reuse more,” “Then maybe, just maybe, our waters will run clear again.”

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