How the UK's fast fashion habits are polluting a country halfway around the world

Standing knee deep in rotting clothes, many from the UK, there was no avoiding the gravity of the environmental consequences of our throw away culture. It was all around me.

And as if any more proof were needed, amongst the stinking toxic waste of this 30-foot high textile mountain, I found a Marks and Spencer Recycling Shopping bag.

Something only available in the UK – but now polluting Ghana.

Our fast-fashion throw away culture is having dire environmental consequences - we just can’t see them because we are exporting the problem to the other side of the world.

Accra has the largest second-hand clothes market on the planet and their biggest supplier is the UK.

But the so called “dead white man’s clothes” that used to be so valuable to a proud and economically important market here, have been replaced by containers of thrown away high street clothes. Much of it rubbish. 100 containers arrive every week.

  • 'The waste management system of Ghana cannot cope'

And as our own incinerators and landfills overflow, we have started to redirect our waste in the name of recycling via the second-hand clothes market.

We have found an outlet for our waste and its excess - Africa.

But we are exporting an environmental catastrophe.

The problem is twofold. Quantity and quality.

Quantity: there is simply too much imported clothing arriving in Ghana. There is so much waste created that the formal waste system is at breaking point. They want the clothes.

They need the clothes. But not the rubbish.

Quality: Fashion items are now dirt cheap because they are of poor quality and they don’t last. They are NOT made to be reused. There is no market for them.

Single use T shirts are one of the most obvious excesses of our throw away culture

Traders at the second hand clothes market say the quality of items means they throw much of their stock away.

In Accra’s suburb of Fadama, where much of the informal waste is dumped, the people live in shacks built on rags. Fires from the toxic waste are frequent and dangerous.

Most clothing does not biodegrade. It is highly flammable, and the man-made fibres and dyes are environmentally hazardous for the land and the sea.

Ghana is becoming littered with the remnants of our fast fashion choices.

Dead White Man's Clothes has been studying the impact of fast fashion in Ghana for five years.

Liz Ricketts from the Or Foundation, which supports Dead White Man’s Clothes said: "We have completely devalued what clothing is."

She added: "Clothing is now disposable and I don't know come back from treating it like a plastic bag or a plastic bottle.

"This textile mountain is an environmental catastrophe."

We may not want to deal with the waste from our throw away culture – but nor does Ghana.

In the name of recycling – the world’s poorest people are having the textile waste from the world’s richest people dumped on them.