30,000 tons of unwanted clothes head each year into Chile's fast fashion landfills

Originally published at: 30,000 tons of unwanted clothes head each year into Chile's fast fashion landfills | Boing Boing


Seeing piles of clothes rotting away in the sun like that, waiting to burn is unreal. :no_mouth::frowning_with_open_mouth::open_mouth:


So can’t that be recycled into new thread? Or no, that isn’t how it works. Cut up and sold as packs of shop rags? I know I have seen stuff like that before.

Anyway - I hate seeing that much waste. :frowning:


Dye is bad stuff.


It’s really terrible.
Is the waste/quantity so great that none of this stuff can even be reused for someone that really needs it? When I have clothes that I don’t want anymore, I donate them. Stuff that is damaged I toss in our own garbage. I don’t buy a lot of clothes, so neither of those things happen very often. It’s not really explained in the video where all this is coming from in the literal sense.


I was just looking to buy some recycled denim insulation for sound dampening in a room. I was surprised to find that it’s very difficult product to buy (at least right now, IDK if supply chains have affected things).

I’m wondering what’s preventing them from adding some flame retardant and grinding them up? Maybe the economics don’t add up?


The vast majority of “donated” clothes are thrown away. Most shops accept anything, but quite a bit of it never sells (when you donate to goodwill for instance, they sell your stuff and use that money to fund services). In general, anything that you donate that you wouldn’t gift to a friend is probably thrown away. Especially if it’s got stains or holes in it. It’s going to end up in the trash.


When it eventually ignites it will out-do tire fires as a symbol of industrial waste and corner-cutting.

Even so… Wouldn’t that just wind up in our own landfill local to whatever secondhand store? Rather than being shipped off to some other country to burn.

So is late stage capitalism.

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I don’t understand why people think burning the waste is a solution. You burn it and all you’re doing is spreading the pollution downwind.

And then you’re left with a pile of toxic ashes to boot.

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Some of the non-trash gets shipped off to be sold in third world countries where it destroys local clothing makers and fashion sense, while allowing charities to extract money from their economies.


True, but in the pic there is a lot of pretty white and near white cloth…

Ditto. I just purged like 20 years worth of clothes that don’t fit/never wear before i moved several months ago. And even then I had some that were my “trashy, don’t care if they get filthy” clothes. I threw them away because who would buy these often ratty and stained shirts, but it still felt wasteful.

My mom was a child of a parent who went through the Great Depression and their urge to save everything that could be useful has been passed down to me. At some point though I have had to let stuff go because - let’s be real - i will never use it. And no one will probably use it. I donate what i can to good will.

I know in the US, things like shifts made for the losing team of the Super Bowl and donated items end up in poor countries as donations. But I suspect in Chile if these are unsold, low quality fast fashion, they just want to cut their loses and dump it, vs spending money shipping it somewhere.


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That’s what I was wondering. If so, that’s fucking gross.
I’ve heard the term “fast fashion” but that doesn’t apply to my life. I buy things for myself as I need them, sometimes when I want them, but I don’t own a lot of clothes. Whatever I buy I assume it’s to last and I tend towards quality. Not much you can do about your drawers and socks, tho. :slight_smile:

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It isn’t just in Chile, it happens in Ghana too: Dead white man's clothes: How fast fashion is turning parts of Ghana into toxic landfill - ABC News

Fast fashion has huge impacts. People want to feel virtuous and absolve themselves of guilt over the amount of clothes they buy so they donate used clothes. But the majority of the clothes that are given to donations bins or thrift stores ends up sold in bulk to other countries. The stuff that isn’t saleable or useable there ends up in landfills.

Mend before buying. And if you have to buy, buy ethically and sustainably. If your clothes absolutely aren’t in wearable shape, you’re better off to throw them away rather than donate them. The artificial fibres will never degrade, but at least your local landfill should have systems to handle waste and you’re not outsourcing your trash to another country.

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Here I sit in a t-shirt I got for free at Moe’s Southwest Grill in 2006, and shorts I bought three years ago, which still seem “new” to me (because I have some that are much older). I feel somewhat virtuous … yet I wonder … if everyone bought clothes (and most everything) as I do, would the world’s economy come crashing down?

Fast fashion is a business model. It lets people with more modest incomes be super trendy, and then it supplies the trends to drive demand. If things partially reverted to old ways where clothes lasted for more than one season and were priced accordingly, H&M might collapse, but the world economy would outlast it. On the other hand, fashion accessories might still fill the void.


Not only Chile and Ghana, pretty sure Bangladesh has huge deposits too.

So, this is not “new” news, there are really great documentaries on the industry of fast fashion and all the waste it hides under the metaphorical rug.

The crazy thing? There ARE NGOs working to try and upcycle some of this waste but rich countries just keep discarding more.

There’s an initiative to create new thread from reused fabric that can be weaved again, if memory serves, this is the one in Bangladesh (where a lot of fast fashion clothes are actually made for pennies by people in miserable situations)

In Chile there was an interview with a NGO guy that makes those cheap wool blankets for homeless people using part of these discarded clothes, but even an army of grannies couldn’t make enough quilts before weather spoils and rottens it all.

There are plenty of startups trying to disrupt fast fashion, but unless you have a wide-scale cultural change on the way richer countries accumulate and discard perfect usable stuff because it’s not fashionable anymore or made to tear and get holes after three months just in time for next season, poorer countries will keep being their landfill.


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