Mountain of unwanted clothes from the UK washes up on Ghana’s beaches
A shocking mountain of unwanted ‘fast fashion’ clothing has washed up on a beach in west Africa.
Disturbing pictures from the capital city of Accra in Ghana show huge piles of sodden garments strewn over the sand, with many of these thought to have been imported from Britain and other wealthy nations.
Up to 70 per cent of the UK’s waste clothes from retail and donation are sent abroad, according to environmental sustainability charity WRAP, with only the United States exporting more worldwide.
Ghana meanwhile is home to a thriving second-hand clothes industry that sees it ship in old stock for resale and repurpose — but is now struggling to cope with demand.
Almost half of all clothes sent to the country from the West cannot be resold as a result of their poor condition, with novelty ‘one-off’ outfits thought to be a major contributor to pollution.
One recent photograph from the coastal fishing community of Jamestown in Accra illustrates the scale of the problem, showing a man perilously stepping over a mound of clothes which reaches from the sand into the sea.
Other pictures from the scene show the items under the water, with the pollution problem now affecting both land and sea.
It echoes the scene found at Chile’s Atacama desert earlier this year, where vast swathes of discarded garments stretched as far as the eye can see.
The desert, believed by scientists to be the driest in the world, is another popular dumping ground for waste clothes from around the globe.
In Britain shoppers buy more clothes per person than anywhere else in Europe, amounting to some five times more than what they bought in the 1980s, according to a 2019 UK parliamentary report by the Environmental Audit Committee.
About 300,000 tonnes of clothing goes to landfill or incineration per year, the report said.