The land of waste
How the fashion industry dumps the problem into Africa
A land of waste: the unbelievable amount of discarded clothing dumped in Africa regularly. About three million pieces of clothing every year. Endless layers of textiles form mountains high of fashion waste polluting the land and waters. A terrifying sight which shows the destruction the western world perpetrates towards nature.
Fast-fashion waste recycling?
People think the clothes discarded into the recycling container (the yellow one here in Italy) are reused. Usually, charities are in charge of these garments. But fast fashion items have poor quality. So, in the end, large quantities can’t be resold and end up in a massive toxic blob in Africa.
Y2K: the overproduction era
Since 2000 global clothing production has doubled, but the quality is lower and lower. As we already addressed, brands accelerated the overproduction model. At the same time, they promoted overconsumption, kicking off the toxic cycle.
Brands overproduce up to 40% every season.
Waste shipped to Africa: the western solution!
In west Africa, everyday cargos arrive full of dirty clothes, and most get there in unwearable condition. In Ghana, a dumping ground for textiles, they call them the “dead white man’s clothes.” Moreover, Western garments are so cheap that local manufacturers can’t compete (source ABC.net.au).
The city of Accra has to find a place to dispose of 160 tons of textile waste every day! Liz Ricketts, a circular economy advocate, has spent about ten years documenting what happens in Ghana.
During the monsoon season, the heavy rains drag the textiles into the sea. Then they return to the shore buried in the sand.
In Accra, there’s no room left to throw away clothing.
We recommend to watch this video by ABC News:
If waste is the byproduct of a fashion industry based on an overproduction pattern, consumers play an active part, too. Indeed, they contribute to this environmental disaster with their consumption habits. Perhaps years ago, information was lacking, but now it’s everywhere! Everyone can understand the downside of cheap clothing.
There are people underpaid to make cheap clothes and, at the end of the cycle, people who make 4 dollars per day to collect fashion waste. Slaves indeed!
The western world’s solution was to ship the problem to Africa! But that has generated a land of waste, which we leave to the coming generations.
Fashion brands are responsible, but so we are if we don’t change consumption habits.