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The Fashion the World Doesn’t Want

By Ksenia A. Canales Adriazola

For a long time, "Fast Fashion" has been considered a "solution" to keep up with fashion trends. These garments are characterized by being made to be renewed each season, that is, they are disposable. In order to carry out this model, "Fast Fashion" companies often resort to both labor exploitation in Asian countries (with violations of human rights due to working conditions, forced labor, minimum wages, child labor) and to environmental pollution (textile production is responsible for 10% of total CO2 emissions in the world, both due to production processes and their administration processes).

Currently, around 150 million tons of clothing are produced each year, thanks to the tensof collections that are launched each year, in contrast to the previous model of spring-summer and autumn-winter collections. According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the production of clothing has doubled in a period of 15 years: in the year 2000 around 50 billion garments were manufactured, however, by 2015 more than 100 billion have been produced. Added to these data is the fact that it is estimated that 73% of the total clothing produced ends up either incinerated or in landfills, which contributes to land, sea, and air pollution.

Landfills are the main destinations of “discarded” fashion, among the largest are the Atacama Desert (Chile), and the landfill in Accra (Ghana). Both are textile cemeteries whose growth does not stop due to the continuous supply of garments that are discarded by the “low cost” fashion multinational companies, reaching more than 92 million tons of textiles per year.

According to various reports, the textile cemetery located in the Atacama Desert is made up of garments made in China and Bangladesh which reach stores in the US, Europe and Asia. When the garments have not been sold, they are taken to the port of Iquique, in Chile, to be resold to other Latin American countries. When these garments cannot be resold, they often end up in the so-called “world's largest clothing landfill”.

Other studies indicate that approximately 15 million used garments arrive at the Cacaman To market, in the city of Accra (Ghana), which local merchants seek to resell. However, this task has been increasingly difficult due to the poor quality of the garments they receive. The market is considered one of the main places where the fashion that the world does not want ends up. It is estimated that 40% of the clothes they receive end up in landfills in Ghana, where they are later washed out to sea.

Given the current environmental awareness, the number of people who are becoming aware and opting for "slow" or sustainable options is increasing. These actions include buying second-hand clothes, buying clothes with a higher price but made with sustainable materials, as well as resorting to new business models such as closet rental or clothing exchange.


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Greenpeace México. (January 29, 2021). “Fast Fashion”: de tu armario al vertedero.

Hernández, V. (August 14, 2021). La trágica historia detrás del “Fast Fashion” de marcas como Zara. Talent Republic.

La sexta. (December 8, 2021). El desierto de Atacama, convertido en un gran vertedero de ropa low cost sin vender.

León, M. (November 3, 2021). La “Fast Fashion” y las ropas usadas, una cadena contaminante que termina en los vertederos. Cambio 16.

Muñoz, A. (2018). El origen del '“Fast Fashion”'. Cinco Díaz.

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BBC Mundo. (October 15, 2021). El país que se convirtió en vertedero de ropa usada de los países ricos.

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