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Unused clothes creating clothing mountain in Chilean desert.

Fast fashion’s market size is expected to grow to $122.9 billion in 2023, up from $106.4 billion in 2022, according The Business Research Company. While, fast fashion has spawned a mountain of leftover clothes in the Chilean desert that’s so massive it can now be seen clearly from space.

Nearly 85 percent of all textiles go to dumps every year, and fashion production consumes vast amounts of water and pollutes rivers and streams, Insider’s Morgan McFall-Johnsen previously reported. The Ellen McArthur Foundation, a UK think-tank, estimated that enough clothes to fill a garbage truck are burned and sent to a landfill every second.

A gigantic heap of unused clothes in Chile is so big that a satellite can easily spot it. High resolution images of the clothing dump was posted on May 10 by satellite photo app SkyFi. Much of the landfill contains clothes that couldn’t sell in stores in the US, Europe, and Asia.

The still-growing mountain of discarded or unworn clothes — manufactured in Bangladesh or China and sent to retail stores in the US, Europe, and Asia — are brought to Chile when they aren’t sold, according to Agence France-Presse. At least 39,000 tons of those clothes accumulate in landfills in the Atacama Desert, the outlet found in 2021.

The clothes can’t be sent to municipal landfills because they aren’t biodegradable and often contain chemical products, Franklin Zepeda, the founder of EcoFibra, a company that tries to reuse the textiles by making insulation panels, told the AFP.

The landfill sometimes attracts migrants and local women, who search the dump for items they can wear or sell. The fast fashion industry aims to give consumers affordable access to fashion trends but contributes between 2 to 8 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, the United Nations found in 2018.
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