The best clothing brands from Asia, Europe and America, all sizes, colors and models are like a huge warehouse … waste gathered in one place. One of the largest secret warehouses for used clothing in a Latin American country generates an environmental alert.
Colorful mountains rise in the ruined landscape of the Atacama Desert Chile. They are a growing force that enters the free zone of the port of Iguau, 1,800 km from Santiago, with 59,000 tons per year.
Excessive and rapid consumption of clothing, with chains capable of producing new products for more than 50 seasons per year, led to the rapid growth of textile waste in the world, which took about 200 years to decompose.
This is a garment made in China or Bangladesh and purchased in Berlin or Los Angeles before being thrown away. At least 39,000 tons end up as waste hidden in the desert in the northern Alto Haspicio region. Chile, One of the ultimate goals from past seasons of “second hand” dresses or fast fashion chains.
Chile It is a leading importer of used clothing in Latin America. For nearly 40 years there has been a solid trade in “American clothing” in stores across the country, with bundles purchased from the Free Zone in the north of the country from the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.
“These dresses come from all over the world”Alex Carreno, a former employee of the import zone of Iguau port, lives near the warehouse and explains the AFP location.
In that area of importers and priority taxes, merchants from other parts of the country choose clothing for their stores, and the rest in this region of more than 300,000 people cannot pass through customs.
“Not sold to Santiago or smuggled to other countries (such as Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay) and then stays here because it is an independent zone”, Carreño confirms.
The desert landscape has traces of all kinds of garbage, and many come from clothing, wallets and shoes. Paradoxically, rain boots or ski boots stand out in one of the driest parts of the world.
A woman, who did not want to be named, dipped half of her body into a pile and wandered around looking for the best that could be sold.
Elsewhere, two young women, Sofia and Jenny, who crossed the border between Bolivia and Chile a few days ago, choose “cool stuff” as their children crawl through the textile mountains, about 350 km from the mainland: “We came looking for clothes because we didn’t have clothes. We threw them all away when we were packing back here.”
Reports from the textile industry have exposed the high cost of rapid civilization, along with allegations of low-wage labor, child labor, and poor conditions for mass production. In addition, catastrophic statistics of its enormous environmental impact comparable to those of the oil industry are included today.
According to a 2019 UN study, world apparel production doubled between 2000 and 2014, showing that it was “responsible for 20% of global water waste”.
The same report states that some jeans require only 7,500 liters of water to produce, while clothing and footwear produce 8% of greenhouse gases, and that “every second the textile is buried or burned the same as garbage.”
On the textile rubbish heaps of this Chilean desert, you can see the “wall” of trousers with the American flag, a pair of shiny skirts and labels, and a collection of sweaters with the most popular Christmas images. December in London or New York.
“The problem is that the clothes are biodegradable and contain chemicals, which is why they are not accepted at municipal landfills.” Franklin Zepeda, founder of EcoFibra, told AFP, with Alto Hospicio, a circular economics company, that it manufactures heat-insulated panels based on these disposable garments.
The ground is covered with heavy clothing with the help of municipal trucks, in an attempt to prevent the fire, which is highly toxic by chemicals and synthetic fabrics.
But buried or exposed clothing releases pollutants into the air and groundwater layers. Fashion is as toxic as tires or plastic.
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