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Each week, Ghana receives 15 million items of used clothing sent from the West. But 40% of the products get discarded due to poor quality. They end up at landfills and in bodies of water, polluting entire ecosystems. The Kantamanto market in Ghana’s capital Accra is West Africa’s hub for used clothing from the West. Here, traders hastily sort through piles of clothes daily in order to grab the best bargain. But often, there are more rags than riches. “We didn’t get any good clothing at all,” a trader told DW after one of these hurried routines. Recently, the deliveries from the West have increasingly been focused on so-called fast fashion items. These clothes usually wear out after only a few weeks. To some traders, it is actually an imposition to sift through them. “The goods that are coming now are really affecting our business,” another trader said, stressing that such cheap items cannot be resold in the local market. While most of these secondhand clothes are typically donated with good intentions from industrialized countries, many have now become an environmental hazard in Ghana and beyond. The OR Foundation, a human rights and environmental NGO from the United States, estimates that about 15 million individual items of used clothing now arrive in Ghana weekly, though 40% end up discarded due to poor quality.

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