Monday, November 22, 2021

Atacama Desert Clothing Mountain

 11/8/21 Yahoo News:

At least 39,000 tons of discarded fast fashion is being left in rubbish dumps in Chile’s Atacama, the driest desert in the world.

Every year, around 59,000 tons of secondhand and unsold clothing, often from China or Bangladesh, reaches Chile after passing through Europe, Asia or the United States, according to a report by AFP.

The clothes are sent to the Iquique port in the Alto Hospicio free zone in northern Chile from where some of the clothes are resold around Latin America, but the majority ends up in the desert because no one pays the necessary tariffs to take it away.

Franklin Zepeda, the founder of EcoFibra, a company that makes insulation panels using discarded clothing, told AFP: “The problem is that the clothing is not biodegradable and has chemical products, so it is not accepted in the municipal landfills.”

I am glad to see someone taking advantage of this ecological disaster, but why is anyone producing clothes that no one will buy?  This makes me wonder if there are government subsidies at the root.


  1. Every major sporting event has t-shirts made for both teams. The ones for Houston Astros World Series Champs 2021 gets sent away. Some apparently gets sold in Africa for very minimal prices.

    Every fashion season, the major manufacturers make guesses as to how many of which styles and sizes will sell. They're often somewhat wrong. Ross Dress for Less and its competitors can't take them all.

    Lots of clothing donated to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Deseret Industries, and St. Vincent de Paul, is not in saleable condition.

    There might be some government subsidies, but clothing buyers are paying most of the subsidy, as the likelihood of having to waste some of the production is built into the price.

  2. It's USED clothing that is piling up. The problem is that the 3rd world used to accept used clothing from the US and other countries for sale, but clothing has gotten so cheap that they can buy new clothing, so, currently, there are no longer any established uses. Most of it is not cotton anymore, but synthetics, so disposal has become the problem.

    1. That is a very different story. Still tragic, but different. It is a story of Third World success--rich enough to buy new. Source for this being just used clothing?