Atacama desert, the place where the planet discards its used clothes :: The coast - News - Santa Fe - Argentina - Ellitoral.com ::
The desired garment, the ideal size and the dream brand: it is not a large store or a generous closet but the Atacama desert in Chile turned into a clandestine garbage dump that is bought, wears and boot in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Colorful hills rise in the desolate landscape.They are balls that grow as about 59.000 tons annually enter the free zone of the port of Iquique, at 1.800 km from Santiago.The excessive and fleeting consumption of clothing, with chains capable of getting more than 50 seasons of new products per year, has exponentially grow textile waste in the world, which takes about 200 years to disintegrate.
It is clothes made in China or Bangladesh and bought in Berlin or Los Angeles, before being discarded.At least 39.000 tons end as hidden garbage desert inside in the area of Alto Hospicio, in northern Chile, one of the final destinations of “second -hand” clothing or past seasons of fashionable fashion chains.
Chile is the first importer of used clothing in Latin America.For about 40 years there has been a solid trade of “American clothing” in stores throughout the country, which are supplied with bales bought by Zona Franca in the north of the country from the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia."This clothes come from all over the world," explains Alex Carreño, former worker in the Iquique port area, who lives next to a clothing landfill.
In that area of importers and preferential taxes, merchants from the rest of the country select the garments for their stores and what is left over cannot leave the customs of this region of just over 300.000 inhabitants."What was not sold to Santiago or went to other countries (such as Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay for smuggling), then stay here because it is a free zone," says Carreño.
On the desert landscape there are spots of all kinds of garbage, and many are clothes, wallets and shoes.Ironically, rain or sky boots stand out in one of the most arid areas in the world.A lady who does not want to give her name has half a sunk body in a mount of clothes and rolling in search of the best possible to sell them in her neighborhood.
On the other hand, Sofia and Jenny, two young Venezuelan who crossed a few days ago the border between Bolivia and Chile, about 350 km from the landfill, choose "things for the cold" while their babies crawl on textile mountains: "We come to look for clothesBecause we don't really have it, we broke it all when we had been mochyling here ”.
Reports on the textile industry have exposed the high cost of fast fashion, with subpagated workers, complaints of child employment and deplorable conditions to produce in series.To this today are added devastating figures on its immense environmental impact, comparable to that of the oil industry.
According to a 2019 UN study, the production of clothing in the world doubled between 2000 and 2014, which has evidenced that it is an industry “responsible for 20% of the total waste of water globally”.The same report indicates that only the production of jeans (jeans) requires 7.500 liters of water, emphasizes that the manufacture of clothing and footwear generates 8% of greenhouse gases, and that “every second is buried or burned with an amount of textiles equivalent to a garbage truck”.
In the textile dumps of this Chilean desert it is possibleDecember in London or New York."The problem is that clothing is not biodegradable and has chemicals, so it is not accepted in municipal landfills," Franklin Zepeda, founder of Ecofibra, a circular economy firm with a production plant in high hospice in High Hospiceof panels with thermal insulator based on these disposable clothes.
Under the ground there are more covered garments with the help of municipal trucks, in an attempt to avoid causes caused and very toxic by the chemicals and synthetic fabrics that compose it.But buried or sight clothes also give off pollutants in the air and towards the groundwater napas typical of the desert ecosystem.Fashion is as toxic as tires or plastics.