How the Atacama Desert became fast fashion's dumping ground.

Fashion's graveyard

In the remote Atacama Desert, a troubling sight emerges—mountains of unsold clothing, unable to biodegrade, filled with harmful toxins and dyes. It’s a fast fashion disaster, wreaking havoc on ecosystems and communities, leaving behind a trail of environmental destruction.

Each year an estimated 59,000 tons of unsold clothing & textiles arrive at Chile's Iquique port to be resold. Realistically, only a third makes it to the intended resale destinations with the rest rejected due their high chemical content. These remaining garments are discarded in a barren desert known as the 'Alto Hospicio free zone' - an area where accountability and responsibility to our environment are nowhere to be seen. The impact this growing textile mountain has on the Atacama Desert is overwhelming.

The consequences

7,500 litres of water are used to produce a single pair of denim jeans; a common find amongst the the many mountains of clothing. (That’s more water than an average person consumes in seven years.) The fashion industry's insatiable demand for water amounts to a staggering 93 billion cubic meters per year - the equivalent to the needs of 5 million people for an entire year. 

Additionally, fast fashion's toxic chemicals pose a severe threat to waterways and the communities that depend on them. Not only do marine life and our precious ecosystems suffer so to do local communities who’s livelihoods are endangered by the toxic water sources.

Did you know?

The fast fashion industry is widely regarded as the second most polluting industry globally, second only to the oil industry?

A harmful process

The fast fashion industry significantly contributes to carbon emissions, surpassing the aviation and maritime shipping industries. The extraction and transportation of materials combined with unsustainable manufacturing processes collectively contributes to this ongoing environmental damage.

So what can we do?

Embracing slow fashion can help reduce excessive production, conserve natural resources and alleviate environmental damage. By shifting away from the "take, make, dispose" mentality of fast fashion we can encourage waste reduction and foster a circular fashion economy. Choosing quality over quantity is key. Investing in durable high-quality clothing reduces the need for frequent replacement and encourages mindful consumption. Fragile eco-systems like the Atacama Desert rely on consumers and brands alike to ignite positive change within the fashion industry.

As always we encourage conscious consumption & mindful purchasing. By embracing our repair and re-wear concept we can all actively
participate in a sustainable circular economy, minimizing waste and supporting
the slow fashion movement.

Slow down, buy less & choose well.