Garment landfills

garment landfill

If you look very quickly, it looks like a nice colourful picture, but it is far from it.

These are synthetic, mostly polyester and acrylic, discarded garments dumped in a landfill in a 3rd world country. Garments that may have only been worn once, because they are cheap, or poor quality, or already out of fashion.
Do you wear polyester? If so, what do you think happens to that product after you donate it to charity? You hope it gets a 2nd life, and it does, but often not in the way you imagined. 
Unfortunately, even those of us who try to dispose of old clothes responsibly contribute to the landfill dumping problem – currently, Europe is the largest exporter of used textiles to Ghana.
Used textiles are collected and sold by container, at a profit, and not sorted – 40% of them are unsaleable even on the local market – in Europe, we are very good at collecting, but unfortunately also at reselling. Recycling used textiles is in its infancy, expensive and not always possible if synthetic materials are used. So resale to Third World countries is chosen.
With this supply of millions of garments from Europe, Ghana’s local textile industry continues to suffer as cheap alternatives enter the country. Age-old traditions and techniques are lost as a result. 
Every week, 15 million used items arrive from Europe – some can be sold locally because Ghana offers a good market, but 6 million items are thrown away, which is 40% waste. These fill the landfills as you see in this picture. These garments are made of petroleum and will not digest. This will take ages, how long nobody knows, because we have not been producing synthetic garments for so long and not a single piece has been digested yet. 
Polyester (“polyethylene terephthalate”) is a synthetic woven material known at the time as durable and relatively cheap to produce. It was invented in 1941 by British chemists and brought to the United States by DuPont. No idea then what impact it would have on the environment.
Ghana has very few incinerators, so they go straight to landfills, landfills, much of it unregulated = 160 tonnes per day choking the water drainage system and devastating communities.
This is a direct result of retailers continuing to sell low-quality polyester, elastane, acrylic and nylon, at high margins and all oil-based. These retailers, as well as their consumers, do not take responsibility for the consequences of these garment productions and do not inform their customers about it. 

The solution?

We do not have the brilliant solution, but to contribute just a little bit to this worldwide problem, we at IKIGAI ACCESSORIES have chosen to make all our  products from natural materials. Recycled materials and materials without petroleum origin. For this reason, our scented candles have a rapeseed oil base instead of paraffin wax. Our bags and kimonos are mostly made of cotton, bags of leather, etc. We do not want to contribute to these mountains of synthetic non-digestible fashion leftovers. Hope you will follow us in this thought
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