From Trash to Runway: Fashion Show Highlights Chile’s Massive Clothes Dump Seen from Space | Global Development

### Fashion Show Raises Awareness on Environmental Impact

Draped in layers of denim, Sadlin Charles walks the catwalk of sand between piles of discarded clothes and tyres in Chile’s Atacama desert. His outfit has been made from items found in the surrounding heaps of rubbish, which are so vast they can be seen from space. Almost all of this waste has come from countries thousands of miles away, including the US, China, South Korea and the UK.

A staggering 60,000 tonnes of used clothing is shipped to Chile each year. According to the latest UN figures, Chile is the third largest importer of secondhand clothes in the world. Some of these clothes are resold in secondhand markets, but at least 39,000 tonnes ends up being illegally dumped in the Atacama desert. The desert is one of the country’s most popular tourism destinations, famed for its otherworldly beauty and stargazing, but for those living near the dump sites it has become a place of devastation.

### Impact on Local Residents

“This place is being used as a global sacrifice zone where waste from different parts of the world arrives and ends up around the municipality of Alto Hospicio,” says Ángela Astudillo, co-founder of Desierto Vestido, a non-governmental organisation that aims to raise awareness about the environmental impact of the waste. “It builds up in different areas, is incinerated and also buried.

### Fashion Activism Movement

To counter this feeling of powerlessness, her organisation teamed up with Fashion Revolution Brazil, a fashion activism movement, and Artplan, a Brazilian advertising agency, to put on a fashion show amid the rubbish to raise awareness of the reality she lives with, and to illustrate what can be made out of the waste.

### Stylist’s Collection Symbolizes Pollution

Maya Ramos, a stylist and visual artist from the state of São Paulo in Brazil, designed a collection worn by eight Chilean models in the show in April, dubbed Atacama fashion week 2024. Plans for a 2025 event are already underway. Each outfit symbolises different types of pollution and the impact on the environment.

### Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion

According to the UN, the fashion industry is one of the world’s greatest polluters, responsible for about 20% of the planet’s wastewater and about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. As fast fashion – cheap clothes bought and cast aside as trends change – has grown, the volume of clothing being produced has increased, while the quality has gone down.

### Global Impact of Clothing Waste

A popular way to dispose of clothes in developed countries is to give them to charity shops. But many of these donations end up in countries in the global south, where there is a big trade in secondhand clothing and where the authorities receiving these loads cannot handle the amount.

### Environmental Racism and Colonialism

Fernanda Simon, the director of Fashion Revolution Brazil, says there is an element of environmental racism and colonialism in systems that see products being consumed in the global north before being discarded in the global south. It is the most vulnerable populations who are affected; in Alto Hospicio, one of the poorest cities in Chile, people are inhaling gases as clothes are burned.

Original Story at – 2024-05-09 07:59:00

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