hand clothing
hand clothing

Mountains of clothes washed up on Ghana beach show cost of fast fashion

 (Muntaka Chasant/Shutterstock)

(Muntaka Chasant/Shutterstock)

Huge piles of discarded clothes line a beach in Accra, capital of Ghana.

The rags started life thousands of miles from the Gulf of Guinea and their coming to rest on this West African coast reflects the shortcomings of a huge global trade buoyed by fast fashion.

Ghana is the third-largest importer of second-hand clothing in the world and its market for used garments is so strong that traders of new lines struggle to compete.

Second-hand clothes enter the country from distributors abroad – Britain and the US are the biggest players – and are sold in bulk to local dealers before hitting the market stalls.

It is no circular economy: More than one hundred million items of used clothing drop from circulation and go to waste each year in Ghana’s capital alone.

Muntaka Chasant, a photographer based in Accra, knows where a good deal of this waste ends up.

He tells The Independent of his trip this week to the beach at Jamestown, an old district of the capital that is home to a fishing community.

Having been there before Mr Chasant knew what to expect but was nonetheless disappointed when he saw dense mounds of clothing lining the seafront.

Nii, a local fishermen, wades through the rags (Muntaka Chasant/Shutterstock)

Nii, a local fishermen, wades through the rags (Muntaka Chasant/Shutterstock)

The wall of clumped fabric bothers the locals, as it blocks the path of their boats into the ocean. But it is sure to be more bothersome to marine life, given activists who monitor the capital’s beaches say the waste visible from the shore is like the tip of an iceberg.

Mr Chasant spoke to Nii, a 20-year-old fisherman who was wading knee-deep in floating rags. He told the photographer: “This makes me upset. None of us living along these shores have anything

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