A person who collects and sells rags.

‘His father still works as a ragpicker, pushing his handcart around the city streets, collecting scraps of discarded cloth that he sells to a contractor.’

Oxford Dictionary

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The Environmental Disaster that is Fuelled by Used Clothes and Fast Fashion | Foreign Correspondent

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In première gegaan op 12 aug. 2021

The dark side of the world’s fashion addiction. Many of our old clothes, donated
to charities, end up in rotting textile mountains in West Africa. This is a story
about how our waste is creating an environmental disaster.

Have you ever thought about what happens to your old clothes after you drop them off at the
op shop? It might be time to start, because these goodwill gestures are helping to fuel an environmental catastrophe on the other side of the world.

When charities in Australia can’t sell donated clothing, tonnes of it ends up being exported to
countries like Ghana, in West Africa. Ship after ship docks every week with bales from Europe,
the US, China and Australia.

They call them ‘Dead White Man’s Clothes’. Once they arrive in Ghana, they’re taken to the
bustling Kantamanto markets in the capital Accra and from here, they make their way to
villages and towns across the country.

The industry provides jobs for thousands of people, like Asare Asamoah, a successful importer.
He brings in clothes, mainly from the United Kingdom, and if they’re good quality, he can make
a decent living.

But it’s risky business. He has to pay upfront for a bale and never knows whether it’s trash or
treasure. With cheap, fast fashion flooding the world, the quality of the clothes arriving in
Ghana is getting worse and worse.

‘Sometimes you’ve gone and bought something, then you don’t get what you want’, says
Asamoah. ‘Then you lose your money.”

And there’s a dark side to this industry.

Correspondent Linton Besser travels to Ghana to uncover the dirty secret behind the world’s
fashion addiction.

While 60 per cent of imported fashion items are reused and resold, 40 per cent are rubbish,
creating an environmental catastrophe for this poor nation.

With the main dumpsite for textile waste now full, unregulated dumpsites ring the city. These
fetid clothes mountains are often set on fire, filling the skies with acrid smoke.

‘It is totally a disservice to us in this part of the world because we have become sort of the
dumping ground for the textile waste that is produced from Europe, from the Americas”, says
Accra’s waste manager, Solomon Noi.

Emmanuel Ajaab imports used clothes from Australia but he despairs at the poor quality of the
clothes that arrive. From a bale of about 200 garments, he finds only seven he can resell at a
good price.

“In Europe and UK and Australia, America, they think Africa here, sorry to say, we are not like a
human being”, he tells Foreign Correspondent.

The dumped textiles also get swept up in the monsoonal rains and end up choking the city’s
waterways and beaches, posing a danger to fishermen and aquatic life. Liz Ricketts, who runs
an NGO campaigning for awareness of Ghana’s textile waste crisis, lays the blame at the feet
of international fashion houses.

“Waste is a part of the business model of fashion. A lot of brands overproduce by up to 40 per
cent”, says Ricketts.

Noi begs the people who donate their clothes to think twice about where they end up.

“If they come here, like you’ve come, and you see the practicality for yourself, then they will
know that, no, we better take care of these things within our country and not to ship that
problem to cause problems to other people.”

About Foreign Correspondent:
Foreign Correspondent is the prime-time international public affairs program on Australia’s national broadcaster, ABC-TV. We produce half-hour duration in-depth reports for broadcast across the ABC’s television channels and digital platforms. Since 1992, our teams have journeyed to more than 170 countries to report on war, natural calamity and social and political upheaval – through the eyes of the people at the heart of it all.

Contributions may be removed if they violate ABC’s Online Terms of Use (Section 3). This is an official Australian Broadcasting Corporation YouTube channel

More example sentences

‘Labourers, ragpickers in the mornings or film poster affixers during the night are the worst hit, not to forget children who are drawn to them and two-wheeler riders.’
‘He began to work as a ragpicker and lived in the railway station.’
‘More often, contemporaries described such youths by their street occupation or activity: newsboys, copper pickers, wood-stealers, ragpickers, swill-gatherers, bootblacks.’
‘The Tapias are ragpickers who earn a living from a nearby municipal dump.’

1 A World of Textile Recycling – UK

14 jun. 2012

The text below comes from another video which is now prvate.
‘Unravel’ follows the West’s second-hand clothes on a journey across India, from the sea to sleepy, industrial Panipat, – one of the only places in the world that recycles textiles at scale. 
Reshma sorts cast-offs in a textile recycling factory in India, and dreams of travelling the vast distances the clothes she handles have. While Reshma shows us how these garments are transformed, she and other workers reflect on these clothes, disconnected from their source, constructing an intriguing picture of the West from both rumour and imagination.

2 Where Your Old Clothes Go to Get a New Life: India

28 jun. 2016

A deluge of secondhand clothing from the U.S. and other wealthy countries arrives each month in the port of Kandla in western India to be resold in the developing world. Photo: Alisson Joyce for The Wall Street Journal

3 How Sacred Flowers Are Turned Into Incense Sticks | World Wide Waste

13 feb. 2021

Millions of Hindu worshippers start every day with a ritual offering of flowers. Temples dump those flowers into the Ganges, adding harmful chemicals and pesticides to a river that’s a lifeline for over 400 million people. Phool, an Indian startup, collects the discarded flowers and transforms them into handmade incense sticks.

4 The Toxic E-Waste Trade Killing Pakistan’s Poorest

11 jul. 2016

The E-Waste Curse: The deadly effect of dumping E-waste in Pakistan Pakistan has become an illegal dumping ground for some of the 50 million tons of e-waste created each year. Karachi’s poor earn a living from the toxic detritus, but the vicious cycle of consumption could prove fatal. 
In Pakistan, the massive arrival of electronic waste has created an informal substance economy that feeds 150,000 people. The country’s poor salvage what they can from the cast-offs of the electronic revolution: copper, steel, brass. Nassir is one who has cashed in on the opportunities found in old cables and hard-drives. “It’s a good business. I have more and more work”, he says. Yet workers pay the price for a few grams of copper; 4 million people die every year because of electronic waste and recycling workers have the lowest life expectancy in Pakistan. In his recycling shop, Akhbar earns 2€ on a good day. It feeds his family of six, but his health has suffered. “This job is dangerous. It’s very toxic”. And the toxic legacy is far-reaching – “It’s a catastrophe…especially for the children”, warns Saba, an activist for the WWF. “They will continue to live here and be poisoned, it’s dangerous for them and it’s dangerous for the next generations”. In our relentlessly consumerist world, can the global poor be saved from the toxic trade in e-waste?
Wild Angle Productions – Ref. 6832
Journeyman Pictures is your independent source for the world’s most powerful films, exploring the burning issues of today. We represent stories from the world’s top producers, with brand new content coming in all the time. On our channel you’ll find outstanding and controversial journalism covering any global subject you can imagine wanting to know about.

5 Recycling In India

20 mei 2013

A documentary film about the traditional ways of recycling in India.
Winner – Best Documentary Short, Tenerife International Film Festival 2011
Official Selection – Radar Hamburg International Film Festival 2011

6 India Has a Booming Recycling Industry

12 jul. 2016

Recycling The Poor (2010): Despite the benefits of recycling, prejudices against ‘informal-pickers’ in India are yet to be overcome.

Imagine streets with no dustbins. Imagine a place where everybody litters wherever they want. Against this chaotic backdrop, India has the highest recycling levels in the world.

India’s ‘informal recycling’ industry has become an important business sector in its own right. Ramshackle sacks of general scrap are piled up in every corner while a group of women busily sort plastic by type and colour. Most of their income is earned laboriously salvaging any recyclables they can sell on. Despite the benefits of recycling, prejudices against ‘informal-pickers’ are yet to be overcome. But very few places in the world have organised as sophisticated and successful a network of ‘recycling cooperatives’. They keep the place clean and provide employment for the poorest.

Shoreditch Films Ltd – Ref. 4883

Journeyman Pictures is your independent source for the world’s most powerful films, exploring the burning issues of today. We represent stories from the world’s top producers, with brand new content coming in all the time. On our channel you’ll find outstanding and controversial journalism covering any global subject you can imagine wanting to know about.

7 Recycling revolutionary shows how you can turn old clothes into kitchen tiles | Australian Story

22 feb. 2021

Scientist Veena Sahajwalla is a recycling superstar with some bold new ideas about how to save waste from landfill.

As Australia’s collective garbage guilt builds alongside the tonnes of plastic piling up in recycling depots, her innovative inventions may offer some exciting new solutions.

Inspired walking the streets of her Mumbai neighbourhood as a child, Veena observed almost everything was reused and “nothing was wasted”.

This can-do attitude shaped her engineering career and sowed the seeds for some ground-breaking ideas, including making steel from car tyres.

Now she’s unveiling her latest invention, a “micro factory” that creates building materials and tiles from dumped clothes and glass.

It’s a revolutionary concept. But will it work outside the lab?

#VeenaSahajwalla #AustralianStory #GreenSteel #GreenCeramics
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About Australian Story: Putting the “real” back into reality television, Australian Story is an award-winning documentary series with no narrator and no agendas — just authentic stories told entirely in people’s own words. Take 30 minutes to immerse yourself in the life of an extraordinary Australian. They’re sometimes high profile, sometimes controversial, but always compelling. It’s television guaranteed to make you think and feel. New episodes are available every Monday.

8 The dirty business with old clothes


14 aug. 2019

Most people believe, that old clothes donations collected by various organisations are immediately sent to countries in need. What they don’t know is, the majority of the donated clothing is sold per kilogramme. Some aid organisations merely place their logo on the collection containers of used clothes firms. 
A small amount of the clothing is given to the needy in the country of origin. The better, still useful items are sent to Eastern Europe and the Arab states. 60% of the articles are sent to Africa. But just what happens to the used items there? Michael Höft and Christian Jentzsch travelled to Tanzania in search of answers. Their conclusion: Not only German companies and several major aid organisations earn well from the donations; for many traders in Africa, old clothes donations are a lucrative business model. Even the poorest of the poor have to pay at least something for them. The cheap clothes flood the markets of the respective countries and bring the African textile industry to its knees.

9 Garson&Shaw Presents: The Life of Used Clothing

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7 jan. 2014

A short documentary that describes the life of used clothing.

10 Clothes from Canada account for huge waste | CBC Marketplace

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19 jan. 2018

Clothes thrown away account for a huge amount of waste in garbage dumps, according to CBC Marketplace’s latest investigation. Canadians on average purchase 70 new articles of clothing a year and that contributes to the 12 million tons a year of textile waste dumped into North America’s landfills. Some retailers have launched sustainability campaigns and set up in-store bins for recycling old items, but it’s no solution to the endless onslaught of throw-away clothes.
Welcome to The National, the flagship nightly newscast of CBC News

11 Tracking your plastic: Exposing recycling myths (Marketplace)

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28 sep. 2019

Marketplace journalists go undercover overseas and pose as recycling brokers to expose the lucrative plastic recycling business. We reveal that Malaysian companies are willing to break the law to buy Canadian plastic and show how some of it is dumped and burned in illegal landfills, where the toxic fumes and run-off appear to be making people sick. Back in Canada, we buy nine tonnes of plastic and secretly track where big companies are taking it. Will it actually get recycled?
For more than 75 years, CBC News has been the source Canadians turn to, to keep them informed about their communities, their country and their world. Through regional and national programming on multiple platforms, including CBC Television, CBC News Network, CBC Radio,, mobile and on-demand, CBC News and its internationally recognized team of award-winning journalists deliver the breaking stories, the issues, the analyses and the personalities that matter to Canadians.

12 The Plastic Problem – A PBS NewsHour Documentary

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In première gegaan op 28 nov. 2019

By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. It’s an environmental crisis that’s been in the making for nearly 70 years. Plastic pollution is now considered one of the largest environmental threats facing humans and animals globally.
In “The Plastic Problem: PBS NewsHour Presents”, Amna Nawaz and her PBS NewsHour colleagues look at this now ubiquitous material and how it’s impacting the world, why it’s become so prevalent, what’s being done to mitigate its use, and what potential alternatives or solutions are out there. This hour-long program travels from Boston to Seattle, Costa Rica to Easter Island to bring the global scale of the problem to light.

13 Plastic Wars (full film) | FRONTLINE

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In première gegaan op 1 apr. 2020

Have efforts to solve the plastic pollution problem made it worse? Go inside the battle over plastics, recycling and what’s at stake.
Despite efforts spreading across America to reduce the use of plastic and the crisis of ocean pollution growing, the plastics industry is rapidly scaling up new production and promoting a familiar solution: recycling. But it’s estimated that no more than 10% of plastic produced has ever been recycled. The documentary “Plastic Wars,” from FRONTLINE and NPR, reveals how plastic makers for decades have publicly promoted recycling, despite privately expressing doubts that widespread plastic recycling would ever be economically viable.
Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation, the Park Foundation, The John and Helen Glessner Family Trust, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.

14 Dirty Business: what really happens to your recycling

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29 jan. 2018

Thousands of tons of plastic scrap collected for recycling from British households have been transported and dumped on sites across the world.
We follow the trail of the UK’s plastic waste through the country and around the world. Can Britain cope as the largest importer of our recycling shuts the door?
Aaron Hahn
The Movie “WALL-E” came to mind when I saw those useless stacks.
William Cheng
UK’s recycling system is just a joke. They just dumped to other countries’ land.

15 The Recycling Myth Documentary

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17 jun. 2019

Malaysia became one of the main dumpsites used for the plastic waste trade. Our investigative efforts began alongside distressed local communities and activists such as Pua Lay Peng who reached out for solutions.
Pre-investigative work started in July 2018, followed by full-on field investigations by October 2018 of four extensively affected areas. These landfills were in Klang, Ipoh and two in Jenjarom. 
By November, 2018, our report on the imported plastic waste trade and the globally broken recycling system was launched with the help of local communities and activists. This is their story.
Chloe Sullivan
Thank you for this report! I had no idea this was happening.
Joe G
Would be helpful to explain the economics here and also more context. How are the factories are getting paid and by whom, are they just burning the waste or doing any real recycling of it, etc

16 Developing a Waste Management Strategy: Transforming Waste from Problem to Resource

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25 jul. 2018

17 Uganda & Pakistan: Second hand clothes markets

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15 feb. 2015

The UK is the world’s second largest used clothing exporter – trading more than $600m worth of discarded fashion overseas each year, according to the latest UN figures. Top destinations are Poland, Ghana and Pakistan. What effect is this having?
Jhony Ricky
BBC didn’t really do full research on used clothing markets after all their “global coverage” has limitations…there are plenty of used clothing markets in india, indonesia, malaysia, thailand…its pretty much every where in the world.
Ahmed Shahin
such clothes may be imported from Bangladesh because it has huge garments factories those produce cheaply.
Hello World
Bhikari Pakistan 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣
I bought a $10 item on Ebay and it was shipped to US for free from China in a week… How the hell do they do that and still make any profit?
elizabeth coopersoutham
greed is a great leveler in the end.
Raksmey Chan
second hand clothes in eu and usa are all made in china.
Rohit Khosla
India is the largest marke for imported second hand clothes. but they cannot be resold in the domestic area. either re-exported or shredded into yarns though there is some leakages from the FTZ areas.

18 Senegal’s Second Hand Clothing Boom

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8 sep. 2016

Global Thrift Store (2014): In Senegal, cotton fields stretch as far as the eye can see. Yet this natural wealth is increasingly overlooked in favour of used foreign imports as the country experiences a boom in second-hand trading from Europe.

“The French throw these clothes away? Really? They throw them away?” Fatou Dia, an employee at one of Senegal’s second-hand sorting centres, is surprised to learn the origin of their stock. The country is experiencing a boom in second-hand trading, and separating unwanted garments enables Fatou to equip her daughter with school supplies. “I’m buying it little by little. I buy one thing, and then the next thing the next month. In this way, I manage”. What is a lifeline to some is a business opportunity to others. “As far as wealth is concerned, human beings are never sated. Because he who does not have his own house is nothing”. For Aliou Diallo, this cheap European clothing was a route to a better life. But in a country whose textile industry is rapidly disappearing from view, are these new imports doing more harm than good?

Wild Angle Productions – Ref. 6092

Journeyman Pictures is your independent source for the world’s most powerful films, exploring the burning issues of today. We represent stories from the world’s top producers, with brand new content coming in all the time. On our channel you’ll find outstanding and controversial journalism covering any global subject you can imagine wanting to know about.
Huge correction @4:18 people do not throw those closes away, we donate them ! People are aware that the clothes get distributed or sold for a small price. They do not throw them away, but bring them to donation boxes, that are located near shopping centers or churches, etc..
Maximus 32
That young rich businessman is very smart & well mannered, everyone needs to learn Hardwork from such kind of people. Good documentary.
This is why you don’t see any locally produced products for the masses, because they can’t compete with this. on the surface this looks good but it’s keeping down local producers who could have grown to employ such people.
Stannis The Mannis Baratheon
Didn’t know this topic was so interesting


Back to menu      IMPORTANT CONTENT

29 mei 2020

Europeans throw away 2 million tonnes of textiles each year. Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned.
Many of us donate our unwanted clothes to charity shops and clothing collection banks – but do we really know what happens to them then? 
Globally, 70% of our donated clothing is baled and sold to textile merchants who ship them overseas for resale in Sub-Saharan Africa. 
Textile Mountain highlights the social and environmental cost of the second-hand clothing trade, tracing the path of our unwanted garments from recycling bins in Europe to landfills and waterways in the Global South.
Shot in Kenya, Ireland and Belgium, this 20 minute documentary calls on us to re-imagine the way the way we design, wear and reuse our clothes – so that our fashion waste no longer becomes another country’s burden.
Filmed & edited by Fellipe Lopes
Researched and produced by Caitriona Rogerson
On site research by Lindi Campbell Clause Closing music:
‘Mazingira Yetu’ by Larry Dwayne Ft Shamir
Produced for
Debra Tomedi
Heart breaking…I vowed for 2022 not to buy one single item of clothing…not much a mark from one…but then friend’s decided to join me❤
Well, now I feel a whole lot better about living in scrubs for the last 6 years and still owning pieces I got while in college. But seriously, when you combine all these documentaries about fast fashion waste, the garbage patch in the Atlantic(?) Ocean, impact of factory farming, etc it paints a very grim picture indeed. How people can deny that human activity is ruining the plants is beyond me.
I just learned about the Kantamanto market fires in Ghana and the amount of video documentation we have of our textile waste in the Global South is sickening, but should be a wake up call! Hopefully we can keep amplifying content like this
Alan Campbell
Excellent, interesting and greatly informative. Deserves to be shared widely.
Autumn A
Wonderfully done. This film brought me to tears and educated me so much more than I had originally thought. Thank you so much for sharing.
Sydney Nwakanma
great insight into a global problem that most people never thought about.
andy dutton
I keep repairing the clothes I already own. NOw i feel justified wearing very worn out clothes.
Hairbylorainmckuil Hairbylorainmckuil
Start a braided rug business out of all that wonderful material!
my music
Dont waste money buying clothing invest it for your future
Meg Van Dyk
Capitalism at it’s best. Corporate Sustainability is the elephant in the room, which requires a new era of big change.
Just Fine
Where do you get this information from? Who is making the statistics for this issue. I’m doing a research about this topic but I can’t find sources for this information.
Helen Bakewell
Well just saviour the fact all that textile can be used in your own couture
Julissa Gamarra
help or increase of pollution and diseases ?

19 Scientist Resurrects Dead Chicken

22 apr. 2020

We don’t want to speak out of turn, but this might be the world’s greatest scientific breakthrough.
Welcome to the world-famous Just for Laughs Gags, we’ve been playing silly pranks on unsuspecting people in public and capturing hilarious reactions with hidden cameras.

Life as it is

Shipbreaking Yards

Sweatshops Fast Fashion

Rana Plaza Fashion

Current Page

Live without dignity