The South American nation of Chile is recognized around the world for its outstanding mountain ranges, with a whopping 22 mountains peaking at over 20,000 ft.

But there is one particular mountain positioned in the Atacama desert which is distinct from the relaxation.

The driest desert in the earth is property to a mountain of discarded clothes, containing anything from Christmas sweaters to ski boots, as the pollution from the market of rapid vogue carries on to expand. 

The social effect of rampant consumerism in the apparel business – these as the kids pressured to work in sweatshops or workers slaving away for paltry wages – is well-recognised, but the disastrous influence on the natural environment is fewer publicised.

Chile has long been a hub of secondhand and unsold apparel, built in China or Bangladesh and passing by way of Europe, Asia or the United States before arriving in Chile, in which it is resold all around Latin America.

Some 59,000 tons of garments arrive each and every 12 months at the Iquique port in the Alto Hospicio absolutely free zone in northern Chile, exactly where it is purchased by garments retailers or smuggled throughout the border to other Latin American nations. 

But at the very least 39,000 tons that are unable to be sold conclusion up in garbage dumps in the desert.

Chile’s Atacama desert is household to a mountain of discarded outfits, made up of every thing from Christmas sweaters to ski boots, as the air pollution from the field of quick style proceeds to expand

The mountain of discarded clothing grows by at least 39,000 tons every yr as the impact of quick vogue carries on to pollute the landscape

The ever-increasing mountain of discarded clothes is pictured in the ‘free zone’ of the Atacama desert, in Alto Hospicio, Iquique, Chile, on September 26, 2021

An overhead see of the dumping web-site shows just a modest component of hundreds of tons of garments littering the Atacama desert

So significantly apparel arrives every single calendar year in Chile that the traders are unable to hope to offer it, and no 1 is ready to spend the expenses and tariffs necessary to have it transported in other places.

Alex Carreno, a previous port personnel who worked at the imports zone, stated: ‘This garments comes from all over the planet.

‘What is not offered to Santiago nor despatched to other nations around the world stays in the absolutely free zone’. 

According to a 2019 UN report, global garments production doubled among 2000 and 2014, and the business is ‘responsible for 20 p.c of overall water squander on a global stage.’

To make a one pair of jeans requires 7,500 liters (2,000 gallons) of drinking water.

The identical report mentioned that apparel and footwear production contributes 8 p.c of international greenhouse gases, and that ‘every 2nd, an volume of textiles equal to a garbage truck is buried or burnt.’

Some individuals make the journey to the desert to scavenge made use of and inexpensive outfits for by themselves and their family members, though some others acquire up as lots of goods as possible to offer in their communities

In accordance to a 2019 UN report, global garments generation doubled among 2000 and 2014, and the industry is ‘responsible for 20 percent of total drinking water waste on a international amount.’

Not all the clothes goes to squander: some of the poorest people today from this region of 300,000 inhabitants pick via the dumps to locate issues they need or can sell in their neighborhood neighborhood

No matter whether the apparel piles are left out in the open up or buried underground, they pollute the natural environment, releasing pollutants into the air or underground h2o channels.

Apparel, possibly synthetic or treated with chemical substances, can get 200 years to biodegrade and is as toxic as discarded tires or plastics. 

But not all the apparel goes to waste.

Some of the poorest people from this region of 300,000 inhabitants rely on the throwaways to clothe themselves and their family members, or decide as a result of the dumps to discover items they can promote in their area neighborhood.

Venezuelan migrants Sofia and Jenny, who crossed into Chile only a several times before on a 350-kilometer journey, put in several hours searching by a clothing pile as their babies crawled above it.

The females explained to AFP had been looking for ‘things for the chilly,’ presented the desert’s nighttime temperatures drop to stages unheard of in their tropical homeland. 

Women research for applied apparel amid tons discarded in the Atacama desert, in Alto Hospicio, Iquique, Chile, on September 26, 2021

Adult males operate at a manufacturing unit that recycles utilized clothing discarded in the Atacama desert for wooden isolation panels for the walls of social housing, in Alto Hospicio, Iquique, Chile, on September 27, 2021.  EcoFibra and Ecocitex are two organizations which recycle material from the waste mountain for other means

Founder of EcoFibra Franklin Zepeda stated: ‘The issue is that the garments is not biodegradable and has chemical items, so it is not acknowledged in the municipal landfills. The remedy is basically not to bring rubbish. But not bringing rubbish implies spending a lot more.’

Chile, the richest country in South America, is known for the voracious consumerism of its inhabitants.

Quick vogue promoting ‘has assisted to convince us that apparel can make us far more appealing, that it will make us elegant and even cures our panic,’ claimed Monica Zarini, who helps make lamp shades, notebooks, containers and baggage from recycled outfits.

The fast vogue clothes mountain has on the other hand inspired some to acquire organizations centered on recycling the materials for extra sustainable ends.  

Rosario Hevia opened a retail outlet to recycle kid’s dresses, just before founding Ecocitex in 2019 – a business that makes yarn from items of discarded textiles and clothing in a lousy state.

Ecocitex employs neither drinking water nor chemical substances in the yarn-making method, and is effective with far more than 250 females-led businesses throughout Chile to offer the recycled solutions it generates from discarded clothes. 

‘For numerous several years we eaten, and no just one appeared to care that additional and additional textile squander was remaining produced,’ claimed Rosario.

‘But now, men and women are starting up to problem by themselves.’

View of wrecked utilised clothing at the Ecocitex ecologic yarn factory in Santiago, on Oct 8, 2021

A female retailers for utilized apparel at the Ecocitex ecologic yarn manufacturing facility in Santiago, on Oct 8, 2021. Rosario Hevia opened a keep to recycle children’s garments, before founding Ecocitex in 2019 – a business that makes yarn from pieces of discarded textiles and outfits in a very poor condition.

A different firm seeking to tackle the squander mountain is EcoFibra, which would make thermal insulation panels working with materials derived from the clothing. 

Founder of EcoFibra Franklin Zepeda claimed: ‘The issue is that the apparel is not biodegradable and has chemical products and solutions, so it is not approved in the municipal landfills.

‘The alternative is merely not to deliver garbage. But not bringing garbage indicates spending more.

Franklin stated that the insulation panels his business is able to make are totally fireproof with much better sound insulation and thermal conductivity than the commonly utilised fiberglass, while also currently being substantially less expensive. 

He claimed that EcoFibra has managed to recycle and market lots of insulation panels, but the need is yet to really catch on for the reason that of traders’ ignorant attitudes.

‘You have to to start with get rid of all the myths they have in their heads – forget all the things they realized about thermal insulation so that they just hear to us and we can current the solution to them,’ he mentioned. 

By Amalia

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