Jun 6, 2023

Fast Fashion killt das Klima: a protest in Berlin, October 14, 2019 (by Stefan Müller CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

‘It’s like a death pit’: how Ghana became fast fashion’s dumping ground – the Guardian

Yvette Yaa Konadu Tetteh’s epic swim down the River Volta highlights the damage done to the country’s waterways by an out-of-control trade in secondhand clothes from the global north, and why it’s time for change.

It’s mid-morning on a sunny day and Yvette Yaa Konadu Tetteh’s arms and legs barely make a splash as she powers along the blue-green waters of the River Volta in Ghana. This is the last leg of a journey that has seen Tetteh cover 450km (280 miles) in 40 days to become the first person known to swim the length of the waterway.

It’s an epic mission but with a purpose: to find out whatis in the water and raise awareness of pollution in Ghana.

As the 30-year-old swims, a crew shadows her on a solar-powered boat, named The Woman Who Does Not Fear, taking air and water samples along the way that will be analysed to measure pollution.

It is hoped that the swim will draw attention to some of the pristine environments in Ghana, in contrast with places such as Korle Lagoon in the capital city of Accra, one of the most polluted water bodies on Earth.

“I want people to understand and appreciate the value we have here in Ghana,” says the British-Ghanaian agribusiness entrepreneur. “The only way I can swim is because the waters [of the Volta River] are hopefully clean. Korle Lagoon was once swimmable but now you wouldn’t want to touch any of it.”

The swim is supported by the Or Foundation, of which Tetteh is a board member, that campaigns against textile waste in Ghana, one cause of increasing water pollution in the country.

Ghana imports about 15m items of secondhand clothing each week, known locally as obroni wawu or “dead white man’s clothes”. In 2021, Ghana imported $214m (£171m) of used clothes, making it the world’s biggest importer.

Donated clothes come from countries including the UK, US and China and are sold to exporters and importers who then sell them to vendors in places such as Kantamanto in Accra, one of the world’s largest secondhand clothing markets.

Kantamanto is a sprawling complex of thousands of stalls crammed with clothes. You can find items from H&M, Levi Strauss, Tesco, Primark, New Look and more. On display at one stall is a River Island top with a creased cardboard price tag showing that, at one point, it was on sale for £6 in a UK Marie Curie charity shop.

As fast fashion – cheap clothes bought and cast aside as trends change – has grown, the volume of clothing coming to the market has increased while the quality has gone down…

Additional Reading:

Dead white man’s clothes – Linton Besser

It’s the dirty secret behind the world’s fashion addiction. Many of the clothes we donate to charity end up dumped in landfill, creating an environmental catastrophe on the other side of the world.

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

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.

Piles of Discarded Clothes From UK are Washing Up on Ghana Beaches and it’s Worrying – Buzz Staff

It is believed that the unprecedented crisis stems from the fast fashion industry of the UK where new clothes are soon deemed out of fashion and are discarded later. Once rejected or donated, the clothes are loaded on ships and sent to other countries.


More on Pollution (Plastic, Hydrocarbon, Waste Water + Trash)

"Liquid Avalanche" Sandy Beach in Oahu, Hawaii (by Floyd Manzano CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

The overwhelming plastic waste Hawaii visitors leave behind – SFGATE

Plastics like in-room toiletries provided by resorts, plus to-go containers and cutlery provided by restaurants, are used and discarded by guests day after day. A single hotel chain can use hundreds of millions of little bottles of shampoo and conditioner every year.

When visitors leave, a lot of these items end up in the trash, yet Hawaii doesn’t have the infrastructure to recycle the immense amount of plastic left behind…

Asphalt (by katsuuu 44 CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

Using ‘recycled plastic’ in construction materials may not be a great idea after all – Grist Magazine

Last month, the American Chemistry Council, a petrochemical industry trade group, sent out a newsletter highlighting a major new report on what it presented as a promising solution to the plastic pollution crisis: using “recycled” plastic in construction materials. At first blush, it might seem like a pretty good idea — shred discarded plastic into tiny pieces and you can reprocess it into everything from roads and bridges to railroad ties…

Plastic input into the oceans: Despite knowledge of the role played by rivers, there are no global estimates of the amount of man-made debris reaching the ocean at river mouths. Therefore, of the estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes of litter which enter the marine environment in 2010 from land-based sources within a 50 km-wide coastal zone (Jambeck et al., 2015) Illustration by Maphoto/Riccardo Pravettoni, courtesy of GRID-Arendal CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via

There Might Be Less Plastic in the Sea Than We Thought. But Read On – the New York Times

There’s less plastic pollution flowing into the ocean from land than scientists previously thought, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The researchers estimated that about 500,000 metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year, with about half from land. The other half comes from the fishing industry in the form of nets, ropes, buoys and other equipment…

A 1992 file photo of FSO Safer off the coast of Yemen (by Maasmond Maritime/Piet Sinke CC BY-NC-SA 2.0via Flickr).

The race to defuse an oil ‘time bomb’ disaster threatening the Red Sea – Grist Magazine

en days ago, the crew of a ship called the Nautica lifted anchor in Djibouti and motored north in the Red Sea. Two tugboats met the vessel about five and a half miles off the coast of Yemen, then guided it into place alongside the FSO Safer, a crumbling, abandoned oil tanker thought to hold 1 million barrels of crude.

Thus began an operation that’s the ecological equivalent of placing the pin back into a hand grenade…

Rocks called "plastiglomerates" - because they are made of a mixture of sedimentary granules and other debris held together by plastic, mainly fishing nets - have been found in Brazil's volcanic Trindade Island. Researchers view this as evidence of humans' growing influence over the earth's geological cycles (screenshot taken from Global News video "Mutated "plastic rocks" discovered on remote Brazilian island," March 23, 2023, via Youtube).

Plastic-rock hybrids found on the Andaman Islands – Mongabay

A study found the formation of plastic-rock hybrids in the intertidal zone of remote beaches of Aves Island in the Andaman archipelago. This is a first record of these hybrid rocks, known as plastiglomerates, from India.
Samples from the island that were analysed contained polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride. Incineration of plastic litter could have led to their formation.
The impact of plastiglomerates on marine ecosystems is yet to be understood as research on plastiglomerates is an emerging field…

Prime Minister Suga inspecting TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station., 26 February 2020 (by CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia).

Is Fukushima wastewater release safe? What the science says – Nature

Despite concerns from several nations and international groups, Japan is pressing ahead with plans to release water contaminated by the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. Starting sometime this year and continuing for the next 30 years, Japan will slowly release treated water stored in tanks at the site into the ocean through a pipeline extending one kilometre from the coast. But just how safe is the water to the marine environment and humans across the Pacific region?

"Don't waste water" (by Kumar Jhuremalani CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

How Plastics Are Poisoning Us – the New Yorker

They both release and attract toxic chemicals, and appear everywhere from human placentas to chasms thirty-six thousand feet beneath the sea…How worried should we be about what’s become known as “the plastic pollution crisis”? And what can be done about it? These questions lie at the heart of several recent books that take up what one author calls “the plastic trap…”

Fishers Island, New York (by Daniel Piraino CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

The ‘Sisyphus of Trash’ Struggles to Clean Relentless Waves of Plastic From a New York Island’s Beaches – Inside Climate News

Michele Klimczak’s passion for cleaning the beaches of Fishers Island led to a full-time, year-round job, but she still can’t keep up with the flood of plastic waste.
In just three years, Michele Klimczak has picked, hauled, weighed, documented and sorted more than 32,000 pounds of garbage from the shores of Fishers Island, New York. She finds plastics stamped with product expiration dates going back two decades washed up all around the roughly four square mile stretch of land in the Long Island Sound…

The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard (pictured in 2022), is one of several sites where rising seas that elevate groundwater levels could release hazardous materials and buried toxins (by Dale Cruse CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

The Bay Area faces an imminent threat from sea level rise — but it’s different from what you think – San Francisco Chronicle

Dangerous chemicals hiding in the ground around the Bay Area are due to be released by groundwater as it’s pushed closer to the surface with sea level rise, a new study has found. In many cases, it can happen without warning as cancer-causing volatile compounds escape into schools and homes, experts say…

“Groundwater rise and sea level rise are gradual processes that are accelerating,” said Kristina Hill, associate professor at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, lead author of the study. “It’s a problem tomorrow, and it’s a problem today…”

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