Where our trash is

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Yesterday was another national holiday in Ghana, so two friends of mine and I decided to make a trip to Accra. Ghana's busy capital has many sites to offer: the Independence Arch, several malls, some beaches and plenty restaurants and bars.
However, we decided to have a look at a very different part of the city: Agbogbloshie (nicknamed "Sodom and Gomorra").
Agbobloshie has once been a wetland located around the Korle Lagoon, now it is home to  a dumping site, especially for electronic waste.

Korle Lagoon
Agbobleshie has become internationally infamous, due to allegations that so-called industrialized nations illegaly dispose of their electronic waste there. Information concerning the origin of the waste vary, some reports also state the e-waste was produced by Accra itself.
Either way, thousands of Ghanaians work on the dump, trying to make some use of the waste, while standing waist-deep in all kinds of rubbish, inhaling the toxic fumes all day long.
One thing I couldn't help to recognize as I walked through the trash myself was that I didn't see any old faces. Everyone from the age of six going seemed to be there, but this seemed to stop at twenty five.
It is not very surprising if you think of it, but still, it came as shock.
I spent about one hour there, trying to absorb the surreal scene before my eyes and even after that short time I could feel my lungs aching from the vapour all around. Now imagine spending all of your (short) life there.

I don't know where the waste actually comes from and even if it comes from Ghana itself, it is not unlikely that the electronic goods have once been imported as second hand products. Anyhow,
the sheer vastness of the pollution should make each and every one of us reconsider our ways of consumption and of disposing our waste. 
We live in a world with wonderful, yet limited recources. We all have to understand that we are all connected by sharing the same biosphere and even though places like Agbobloshie seem to be far away, they are closer to us than we might think.
We should all try to make more concious choices and try to reduce trash. For the environment, for ourselves and for the people in Agbobleshie. 

 Have a look at http://www.trashisfortossers.com/ for some ideas of how to reduce your own trash.

There was another thing about the people in Agbobloshie that stood out to me: theit eagerness to show us the place. I could've understood why they wouldn't like us to take pictures, but they wanted us to see, to keep records and report. They were really happy to see us there, to have the opportunity to show people how they work and live.
So please don't look away, share their stories and try to get yourself involved, even small everyday choices can make a change.

- Sarah

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