The Chilean desert is home to tons of discarded clothes

The Atacama Desert in Chile has become a clothing graveyard, with around 35,000 tons of unsold second-hand clothes dumped there every year. A handful of organizations are working to reduce and reuse polluting fabrics.

What is happening: It starts when used clothes from the United States, Europe and Asia arrive in Iquique, a duty-free port near the desert, to be resold in Chile and other Latin American countries.

  • The unsold – 60% of the 59,000 tonnes – ends up in a desert dump, according to environmental groups.
  • The fabrics could take up to 200 years to decompose because they are mostly synthetic and treated with chemical dyes, the groups say.

Details: Local circular economy companies Ecocitex and EcoFibra are tackling the problem by salvaging discarded clothes from the desert and giving them new life.

  • Ecocitex, run by women, uses the clothes to make new materials such as yarn and woolen hats. It also donates some clothing to migrant and homeless communities.
  • EcoFibra grinds clothes into small pieces, then uses them to make thermal and acoustic insulation panels, which can be recycled.

do not forget: The fashion industry produces higher carbon emissions each year than all international flights and shipping combinedaccording to the UN.

  • The UN blames most of the blame on “fast fashion”: brands that bulk sell collections that are ephemeral and made with cheap materials that wear out faster and get thrown away faster.

To note: Chile and Guatemala are the largest importers of used clothing in the Americas, according to MIT’s Observatory of Economic Complexity.

Get more important news about Latinos in the hemisphere, straight to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Register for the Axios Latino newsletter.


Source link