In Chile, South America, a mountain is growing in the middle of the Atacama Desert — one made of clothes.
From everything like shoes to sweaters, the mountain of clothes is a consequence of today’s growing fast fashion and clothing industry. Fast fashion is the clothing industry that aims to reproduce copy-cat items off of higher brands at a low price while mass producing them. Fast fashion is deemed unethical for both people and the environment; kids and others are forced to work whole days for paltry minimum wages and the remaining of unsold clothes is thrown away, accumulating to a mountain.
For Chile in specific, Chile has long been the receiver of second hand clothes. Fast fashion products, commonly made in China, are distributed to other first world countries, like ones in Asia and the United States. Then, the clothes are redistributed to Chile to be resold. Annually, an estimated 59,000 tons of clothes are brought to Latin America through this fast fashion process. People then either smuggle the clothes or resell for their own good.
However, this leaves around 39,000 tons of clothes in remains usually, thrown into places like the Atacama Desert.
Another reason why the clothes stay in a pile in Chile is because no other person or country is willing to pay the fees and tariffs necessary to transport these clothes to someplace else.
Though many people commonly boycott fast fashion for its unethical work conditions of the labored, the environmental detriments are not as prominent.
According to a 2019 UN report, global clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014, and the industry is “responsible for 20 percent of total water waste on a global level. To make a single pair of jeans requires 7,500 liters (2,000 gallons) of water.” Another statement made by the same report was that clothing and footwear manufacturing contributed eight percent of global greenhouse gases, and that “every second, an amount of textiles equivalent to a garbage truck is buried or burnt”.
Ways that others can help this cause is to support sustainable brands when shopping for clothes and also donating to other organizations that can directly aid as well.