Activists for the global network protested fast fashion’s impact on the environment by dumping textile waste in front of the Brandenburg Gate earlier this week, coinciding with the start of Berlin Fashion Week.
With a banner that read “Fast Fashion – Kleider Machen Müll” (which translates to “fast fashion – clothes make waste”), protesters—including German actors Luise Befort and Fabian Grischkat—brought a mountain of textile waste measuring nearly 11.5 feet in height and roughly 39 feet in width to the 18th-century neoclassical monument to highlight the downsides of fast fashion. The “textile mountain” was sourced from the Kantamanto Market in Accra, the largest secondhand market in Ghana, according to Greenpeace.
“We are protesting against the waste colonialism of the fashion industry,” Viloa Wohlgemuth, a Greenpeace campaigner for resources protection, said to Euronews. “Because behind me are 4.6 tons of fashion and waste of plastic that land in Ghana…in just in one week.”
In a joint research project, Greenpeace Germany and Greenpeace Africa collected 9,200 pounds of textiles—roughly 19,000 garments that would have otherwise been discarded—over the course of just a week. After bringing the clothing to Hamburg for evaluation, infrared analysis found that over 96 percent of the items were made from synthetic fibers.
“The results of the research highlight the roles of textiles as plastic products in plastic pollution,” the two organizations said. “Particularly in countries like Ghana, this leads to a massive increase in plastic waste.”
As such, Greenpeace is demanding that the textile industry take accountability—and responsibility—for its waste.
“We have to change this whole model,” Wohlgemuth said. “The alternative for buying new, producing new has to become the new normal. That means renting, sharing secondhand, repairing, upcycling. This has to become the new normal.”