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Unreported World on Ghana and the UK clothing waste

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Unreported World on Ghana and the UK clothing waste

The documentary airs tonight on Channel 4.

Ghana is suffering an environmental disaster caused by the clothes and fast fashion industry.

Reporter Ashionye Ogene travels to the bustling market of Kantamanto, in the capital city Accra, to meet the traders struggling to sell the clothes we in the UK no longer want. Kantamanto was once home to textile traders making a good living from so-called ‘Dead White Man’s Clothes‘ – items donated from the West believed to be so good that only dead people would part with them.

But the arrival of fast fashion is changing that.

In 2019, roughly 63 million kilograms of clothes were imported into Ghana from the UK. On a busy Saturday morning, Ogene meets Abena, just one of 30,000 traders who rely on good-quality second-hand clothes to make a living. But her livelihood has become a lottery. Buying in bulk, she has no idea what’s inside, and as her stock is unwrapped, Abena is left with piles of worthless items.

What isn’t sold is going to waste and contributing to an environmental catastrophe.

Fashion designer and activist Sammy believes that up to 40 per cent of everything imported into Ghana is now thrown away. This has created mountains of waste on the outskirts of the city, much of which can take up to 200 years to decompose, with excess waste spilling over into the city’s slums.

On the beaches of Accra, Ogene discovers a waterfall of mangled clothing flowing from the city’s sewers straight into the ocean. Scientists reveal clothing-related plastics in seafood along the west coast of Africa, as the government weighs banning imports to safeguard the environment against protecting the diminishing livelihoods of traders.

 

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