Before you go shopping for new clothes, check out this toxic wasteland of used clothes in northern Chile

Photo courtesy of Antonio Cossio/dpa.

Before clicking on the ad that appears on the web, before paying attention to this newsletter that promises you the best looks for spring, take a look at this desert.

It’s a clandestine dump of tons of used clothes that end up abandoned in the arid lands of the Atacama desert in northern Chile.

As if in a post-apocalyptic scenario, mountains of used clothing from the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia find their final destination in the driest desert on earth.

The clothes, which were thrown away for resale, ended up in this open dump, emitting toxic gases as they decomposed, the Spanish newspaper reported. El Pais.

This clandestine dump was born from the rejects of the 59,000 tonnes of clothing that arrive each year in Chile – the leading importer of second-hand clothing in Latin America – via the free trade zone of the port of Iquique, 1,800 kilometers north of Santiago. Most are second-hand items, but there are also unworn ones with the sales tag still attached.

This sartorial desert is also the destination of thousands of people looking for clothes to wear or resell and earn a living.

“We have turned our city into the dumping ground of the world,” said Patricio Ferreira, mayor of Alto Hospicio, the municipality where the vast majority of dumps are located. BBC.

Most of these clothes have already been donated to charities in developed countries. Much of it is resold to charity shops or donated to people in need.

But what is not sold or given away in these countries (sometimes because it is damaged) ends up being sent to other countries such as Chile, India or Ghana, the BBC continued.

According to The United Nationsthe fashion industry is one of the most polluting world industries, after oil.

This industry is responsible for 8% of greenhouse gases and 20% of total water waste in the world. Imagine that it takes 7,500 liters of water to produce a pair of jeans.

In addition, most clothes today are made of polyester, a type of plastic resin obtained from petroleum, which has great advantages over cotton: it is very economical, weighs little, dries quickly and does not wrinkle.

The problem is that it takes over 200 years to disintegrate, whereas cotton takes about 30 months.

While the Atacama’s clothes dump problem isn’t new — textile waste has been piling up in the desert for at least 15 years — the solution is far from simple.

Between companies not taking responsibility for their waste and the irresponsible consumption we make of our homes, the world doesn’t seem to have enough natural carpets to hide our waste.


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