Short Story Finalist – Cooper

A cry for clothes

The sun was just rising over the hills and the town was so alive, it seemed like the people of Ghana had been awake for hours, way before the sun had to wake up. My name is Mark Williams and I decided to travel to Ghana for 2 days. Let me share my story…

When arriving towards Ghana, I could see some old clothes and trash everywhere along the road and around the road. As I got closer, I started to see what looked like houses. When I entered Ghana, the living mess, what I saw was a massive pile of old clothes and trash in the rivers along the shoreline. There were cows, birds and people walking along the top of these massive piles of waste. There were so many different areas where you could see these piles all over the place.

I found one of the locals here named Samuel and asked him “what do you do for a living?”

“Well, I get a bale of old clothes and I sort through the clothes to see what I can sell. Most of the clothes are stained, ripped and torn. If I do get clothes in good condition, then I take them to one of the markets to sell to other people”. The next question that I asked Samuel was, “do you know what the people are doing on top of the piles of old clothes?”

“The reason people are on top of the piles is because they are also trying to look for sellable clothes. It is rare to find clothes in a good conation because hardly anyone gets rid of good clothes.”

Samuel took me for a walk around Ghana and we entered the docks. I could see just on the horizon a cargo boat slowly moving along like a sloth. By the time the boat got to the dock, the back had started to lower and right in front of me stood hundreds of bales of clothes!  I could not believe how many old clothes there were; most of them are ripped and stained.

Samuel then said to me “I am going to buy two bales so you can take one to the market.”

“Wait you need to buy the bales?”

“Yes, because these are not donated to us so if I buy a bale and if I can’t sell anything from it then I lose money.”

As I had tried to pick up a bale, it felt like I was trying to lift an elephant. After lifting the bale all the way to the market, I felt like I was going to pass out; every step felt like I was being stabbed in the leg. After recovering for a few minutes, I sorted through all the old clothes and was surprised that sadly only 12 items were good to sell.

When we finished selling all the clothes, Samuel took me to the beach. While the sun was setting, it had started to light up the sky with a vibrant orange and yellow and blends like it was fire in the sky. While I was so focused on the sunset, I then glanced down and saw a massive bump in the sand like a snake had dug itself into it.

Samuel quickly grabbed the snake and pulled out a mix between plastic and old clothes all wrapped up like a blanked.

Samuel told me “These are called tentacles.”

“Where did all this come from to make this?”

“All the piles of old clothes in the rivers slowly move pieces of the piles down river and it ends out in the ocean. Other ways the rubbish and clothes get in to the ocean is from flooding because all of the clothes that scatter over the ground get picked up and taken all the way to the ocean as if it was a bag in the wind.”

The sun had gone under the sea so Samuel and I started to head back to the town. A blinding red and orange light was coming from over all the buildings, assuming there had been an accidental fire. Samuel told me that people were burning the piles to limit the amount of waste. As Samuel was explaining, a black cloud of smoke started to fill the sky like it was a plague. I asked Samuel how often this happen and he told me that it occurs every day or there would be twice the amount of the piles.

After last night, I realised how bad this problem was because of the fast fashion industry. The trip allowed me to see the impact on developing countries and the conditions people live in because of greed and waste. Now I think it is our turn to try to do something about this problem and help those that are having to suffer for our own enjoyment.