Fast fashion, producing more products at a lower price, has grown up a lot lately. It is generally known that it’s a problem for our planet, however, why exactly? This explainer reveals the life cycle of fast fashion clothes and focuses on why Chile’s nature has to “pay” for its waste.
Life cycle of fast fashion clothes
Chile has for long been a centre for wasted clothes manufactured mostly in China. It is the biggest second-hand clothes importer in South America. “Unfortunately, we have transformed our city into the world’s garbage dump”, stated Mayor of Alto Hospico, Patricio Ferreira.
The original idea was to help the economy , but things went wrong. As only a small part of the clothes is sold, the rest travels quite a long way to the Atacama desert illegal clothes dump.
Around 60,000 tons of wasted clothing are brought to Chile every year. More than 39,000 tons end up in the Atacama desert’s dump. It is the driest place on Earth, and all the wastage damages the desert’s unique biodiversity and threatens the health of the people living nearby. Subsequent fire disposal has a terrible impact on the environment. Underground burning pollutes water channels, and burning on the ground causes huge air pollution. The contamination from clothes is almost as toxic as from plastic or tires.
It is hard to see any solution in the near future. Chile tries to lower the imported number of clothes. A new law makes importers responsible for textile waste, but it is not possible to control everything. Chile also asks other countries to not send any of the wastage there. The government also appealed to the UK specifically to take responsibility for waste produced there and to help stop other wastage coming to Chile through the UK.