VIDEO. In Ghana, the dumping ground of the West, textile waste forms a mountain, and a tide of clothing pollutes the shores

“The garbage dump of the West”: this is the nickname of the Old Fadama district in Accra, the capital of Ghana. In this favela, one of the most polluted in the world, some 100,000 people live in extreme poverty, at the foot of a mountain of waste. Plastic, food scraps, but mostly layers of used clothing stacked twenty meters high. These come from China, the United States, Europe… from the global second-hand clothing business.

In fact, more than half of the old clothes that we put in containers to be recycled are resold abroad, mainly in Africa. And Ghana is one of Africa’s leading second-hand clothing importers… The country of 32 million people receives 800 million second-hand items every year… and 160 tons of textile waste every day.

“Obroni wawu” or “dead white men’s clothes”

In Accra’s Kantamanto market, the local second-hand temple, vendors criticize whites, who “just bring garbage“. For these garments, called “obroni wawu“(“dead white men’s clothing”) in remembrance of an ancient belief, seem ever more numerous, and their quality less and less good. Unsold goods are exploding, and Ghana does not know what to do with them.

During the rainy season, garbage is drained from landfills or carried into the sea through sewers. Of intertwined garbage – clothing, fishing nets, plastic… – thrown into the sea. Impressive images were taken last spring by a member of The Or Base.

The “fast fashion” at the helm

This NGO, which “works in the areas of environmental justice, education and fashion development” and “acts in favor of circular fashion”, was founded by the American Liz Ricketts. According to her, the fashion industry is responsible for this pollution, in particular “fast fashion” which always produces more. “There are simply too many clothes in circulation in the world, she warns It goes beyond Ghana: the Kantamanto market and the beach here just make visible a problem that is, in fact, all over the world.”

Excerpt from “Textil: the hill of shame”, report to see in “Special Envoy” on October 6, 2022.

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