The fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar business, but the cost of its success is high. The demand for new and trendy clothing has led to a massive increase in textile waste, and it's having devastating consequences on countries like Ghana. These countries are being overwhelmed by the amount of textile waste, and the people who live there are paying the price. These wastelands are destroying communities, polluting the environment, and causing serious health problems for the people who live there. In this article, we'll explore the tragic reality of textile wastelands and what we can do to help.
In Ghana, the Accra landfill is also filled to the brim with textile waste, causing pollution and health issues for those living and working in the area. Some 15 million used garments pour into Accra every week from the UK, Europe, North America and Australia, flooding the city's sprawling clothing market. Often referred to by locals as "Obroni wawu", which translates to: Dead white man's clothes, these discarded clothes from Western countries are sorted through and sold for a small profit. An estimated 40 per cent are of such poor quality they are deemed worthless on arrival and end up dumped in landfill. And the dangerous conditions and constant exposure to toxins has left many workers ill or injured. Many of the people who work in these wastelands are children and teenagers, sorting through mountains of textiles to find any scrap they can sell. The conditions are dangerous and hazardous to their health, but it's often their only means of survival. The chosen garments after being sorted through, are then sold at the 'Kantamanto market' labelled the "second largest second-hand market in West Africa" located in Accra.
Ultimately, it's up to the government and industries to enact change and properly manage the disposal of textile waste, but let's not turn a blind eye to the suffering caused by our consumer habits.
So what can we, as consumers in the western world, do about this issue? One solution is to think more carefully about our consumption habits and only purchase clothing that we know will last and that we will wear for a long time. Buying secondhand clothing is also a great way to reduce textile waste. And, if you do have clothing that you no longer want or need, donate it instead of throwing it away. Simple things like shopping secondhand or supporting brands with sustainable practices can really make a big difference as these companies are also making efforts to minimalist their own waste and sometimes have efficient processes set up to reuse the waste their companies create. By pushing for policies that hold companies accountable for their textile waste and encourage recycling initiatives, these communities being directly affected by our purchasing habits can have an overall better quality of life.
It's important to remember that the issue of textile wastelands is not just an environmental problem, but a humanitarian one as well. By making more conscious choices about our clothing purchases, we can help prevent the devastating effects of textile waste on communities in Ghana, and other countries around the world.