Ghana receives about 15 million used clothing from the Western world each week, 40% of which are thrown away due to their low quality making them unwearable (DW News, 2022). Most of these garments are dumped at landfills which end up polluting the ocean and littering beaches. The burning of secondhand clothing also releases toxic substances into the air, which can cause respiratory infections and diseases. It is believed that the global fashion industry is a major contributor to climate change; responsible for 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, representing emissions more than the shipping and aviation industries put together (Climate Council, 2021).
In response to the growing threats posed by unsustainable fashion practices on the environment in Ghana and its contribution to global climate change, we have created the Sustainable Fashion Advocacy Unit. The Unit is headed by Akuvi Adjabs, an experienced fashion designer who through her work has supported fashion start-ups and existing brands to adopt sustainable practices in their business models. The department will work with different stakeholders to raise awareness among the fashion industry players and the public about the impact of the the second-hand business models on the environment. GYEM will do this through research and engagement with state actors and industry, advocating for the implementation of relevant policies to control the consumption of fast fashion and protect the environment. We will also partner with community-based organizations (CBOs) to address this issue by working with community leaders and members.
We have already collaborated with Kumasi Fashion Week, an annual fashion event in the Ashanti Region of Ghana to introduce the “Sustainability Task” in the 2022 edition with support from Akosombo Textiles Limited. The event saw designers combining second-hand pieces with wax prints to make wearable pieces which were later donated to vulnerable members of the local community.