Used outfits choke equally marketplaces and atmosphere in Ghana | Africa | DW

The Kantamanto marketplace in Ghana’s funds Accra is West Africa’s hub for used clothing from the West. Below, traders rapidly kind via piles of garments day-to-day in purchase to grab the very best cut price. But often, there are far more rags than riches.

“We did not get any superior garments at all,” a trader told DW right after 1 of these hurried routines.

Lately, the deliveries from the West have more and more been targeted on so-called rapid style merchandise. These dresses ordinarily dress in out right after only a few weeks. To some traders, it is essentially an imposition to sift by means of them.

“The merchandise that are coming now are actually affecting our business,” one more trader stated, stressing that these types of cheap items can not be resold in the regional market.

Scavenging for high quality clothes donated from the West is element of the area economic system in Accra

Environmental disaster in the creating

When most of these secondhand outfits are typically donated with excellent intentions from industrialized international locations, many have now grow to be an environmental hazard in Ghana and over and above.

The OR Basis, an NGO from the United States, estimates that about 15 million unique items of made use of outfits now arrive in Ghana weekly, while 40% end up discarded because of to weak high quality. With no use for them, the turned down products first end up at landfills and then vacation more into the ocean. 

Environmental activists say this is a major catastrophe in the creating groups like the Ghana H2o and Sanitation Journalists Community (GWJN) are attempting to increase recognition about this underreported issue.

“For the reason that it is secondhand apparel, some of them wear out really swiftly, and then they get thrown all above the area. You get to [the] refuse dump, and you find a ton of them dumped in excess of there,” Justice Adoboe, the national coordinator of the corporation, informed DW.

“You go even in the vicinity of water bodies, you notice that as rainfalls and erosion occur, [they carry] a large amount of these secondhand clothing wastes toward our water bodies,” Adoboe additional, highlighting that due to the fact some of the products include harmful dyes, “those people who consume from these bodies [of water] downstream may possibly not be consuming just drinking water but chemical substances.”

Also, the discarded clothing items that are flushed into the sea later get washed back again up on the country’s beach locations. For UN Goodwill Ambassador Roberta Annan, this is a catastrophe in the generating for marine existence:

“You cannot get it out. You have to dig. It’s buried. It is stuck. Some of these clothing are polyester and, I would say, synthetic materials that also go into the waterway and choke the fish and maritime lifetime in there,” Annan told DW, as she tried to pull some of the clothing out at a beach front in Accra.

Woman selling fabrics at a market in Accra,

Approximately 50 % of all applied garments are thrown away — but the other 50 percent presents a lifeline to numerous Ghanians

Finding alterative makes use of for squander garments

In the meantime. some vogue designers are on the lookout into finding options to this rising challenge. Elisha Ofori Bamfo focuses on upcycling discarded secondhand garments. But even he is not satisfied with the good quality of some of the garments he uncovered just lately.

Bamfo advised DW that it is even difficult to upcycle and recycle some of the secondhand garments that are imported into the place these days: “Sometimes when you go to the sector, there are some apparel that cannot be upcycled or won’t be able to be marketed,” Bamfo reported, introducing that local authorities have to just take the guide and be certain that only quality secondhand garments things are imported.

Other African nations have in truth taken a more proactive and bold approach when it comes to the squander created by secondhand outfits, issuing bans. 

Rwanda, for instance, banned secondhand clothes imports in 2018 in buy to boost its individual textile market. And other nations have adopted accommodate.

To ban or not to ban

When the coronavirus pandemic emerged in 2020, Kenya outlawed the importation of secondhand outfits to reduce the likely distribute of the virus. That ban has because been lifted for the reason that of its financial effects on people’s livelihoods.

Bamfo agreed that in Ghana, an complete ban on these products would very likely also impose extra economic hardship on quite a few men and women dependent on them: “Hundreds of men and women count on secondhand clothing to endure to feed their family members,” he reported.

Adoboe in the meantime thinks that Ghana may well certainly reward from a total ban, but states that there is no political will to see this kind of an initiative by way of. He believes that until political leaders get started to take the impact of used clothes on the surroundings critically, Ghana will continue to remain helpless in this fight towards pollution.

Roberta Annan, however, is resolute in wanting a quick resolution to shield not just the setting but the local vogue field as effectively: “The fashion industry in fact loses $500 billion (€443 billion) a year because of to vogue waste,” Annan explained.

Ghana’s government has remained silent so considerably on the difficulty, and there is no indicator that it could possibly consider any action to offer with the problem of secondhand apparel and the influence they have on the neighborhood textile market as very well as setting.

Each time authorities may possibly want to decide to join the battle versus this increasing situation, it may well perhaps be too late.

Edited by: Sertan Sanderson