A mountain of unsold clothing from fast-fashion retailers is piling up in the Chilean desert

One woman looks for clothes among tons of clothing discarded in Alto Hospicio (Chile) by Martin Bernetti. Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images
Unworn clothing piles up in Chile's Atacama Desert.

Chile receives 39,000 tonnes of clothing that cannot be sold in the USA or Europe each year.

The desert is covered in clothes that cover a large area of it, encasing the dunes with a layer of discarded textiles.

Unworn clothing is being discarded in Chile's desert. This adds to the rapidly growing graveyard of fast fashion lines.

According to Agence France-Presse's report, the huge pile of clothes is made from garments made in China or Bangladesh and then make their way to American, European, and Asian stores. The garments can be brought to Chile's Iquique port for resale to other Latin American countries if they aren't purchased.

According to AFP, 59,000 tons of clothing end-up at Chile's port every year. At least 39,000 tons of this clothing end up in desert landfills.

Alex Carreno, a former employee of the Iquique port’s import section, said to AFP that the clothing "arrives all over the globe." Carreno said that most clothes are later disposed off when they can't sell across Latin America.

The desert piles of used clothes now cover an entire area in the Atacama desert, Alto Hospicio in Chile.

Aerial view showing used clothes that were discarded in the Atacama desert of Chile. Martin Bernetti/ AFP via Getty Images

Franklin Zepeda, the founder of EcoFibra, said that clothing that has chemical products is not biodegradable is not acceptable in municipal landfills. EcoFibra is a company that makes insulation panels from discarded clothing.

Zepeda, whose company has been using textile waste for its thermal and acoustic buildings insulators since 2018, stated to the AFP that he wants to "stop being the issue and start being the solution."

Even though fast fashion is affordable, it can be extremely damaging to the environment.

According to the United Nations, 8-10% of carbon emissions worldwide are caused by the fashion industry. The fashion industry also consumed more energy in 2018 than both the shipping and aviation industries. According to researchers, every second is equivalent to the time a garbage truck hauls clothes away from a landfill.

The rate at which people buy clothes has not slowed in the 21st Century. The Ellen McArthur Foundation, an UK-based think tank and circular-economy charity that tracks clothing production, reports that the average consumer has bought twice as much clothing in the 15 years between 2004 and 2019. McKinsey also stated that the average consumer bought 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2000.

Insider has the original article.