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Ghana's dependence on soaring used clothing sparks debate over sustainability and self-reliance


In recent years, Ghana has become a significant destination for used clothing exports from across the world. The West African nation has been inundated with second-hand clothing, which is often shipped from developed countries like Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

According to the latest data, in 2022 alone, over 1.5 million tons of used clothing and textiles were imported into Ghana from various parts of the world. This is equivalent to 150 kilograms per person, making Ghana one of the largest importers of second-hand clothing in the world. It is estimated that about 40% of the used clothes imported into Ghana end up in landfills or other forms of waste.

Many Ghanaians rely on the second-hand clothing trade to make a living, either as traders or tailors. However, the influx of cheap used clothes from overseas has had a significant impact on the domestic textile industry, which has been struggling to compete with imported clothes for decades. This has led to the closure of many textile factories and the loss of thousands of jobs in the country.

Moreover, the used clothing trade has had a negative impact on the environment in Ghana. Many of the clothes that are imported are not suitable for reuse and often end up in landfills, polluting the soil and waterways. This has led to concerns about the health and safety of people living in the vicinity of these dumping sites.

Environmentalists and activists have been calling on the Ghanaian government to take action to regulate the import of used clothes into the country. They argue that the over-reliance on imported second-hand clothes is unsustainable and that Ghana should be investing in the development of its domestic textile industry.

Despite these concerns, the used clothing trade in Ghana continues to thrive, and many Ghanaians see it as a vital source of affordable clothing. With no immediate solutions to the problem in sight, it remains to be seen how the country will navigate the environmental and economic challenges posed by the used clothing trade.


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