In a striking revelation, a mountain of discarded clothes located in Chile's Atacama Desert has grown to such enormous proportions that it can now be observed from space. This visual evidence underscores the magnitude of the waste generated by the fast fashion industry, estimated to produce a staggering 92 million tons of waste annually. The satellite images captured by SkyFi, a satellite imagery app, offer a poignant glimpse into the scale of the problem we face.
Released on May 10, the satellite image provided by SkyFi reveals the expansive clothing mountain amidst the desolate landscape of the Atacama Desert. With a resolution of 50 centimetres, the photograph showcases the immense size of the pile in comparison to a nearby city, serving as a stark reminder of the urgent need for change in the fashion industry.
The discarded clothes comprising the mountain are predominantly manufactured in China or Bangladesh before being distributed to stores across the United States, Europe, and Asia. When these garments fail to sell, they are unceremoniously dumped in the Atacama Desert. As of 2021, an estimated 59,000 tons of clothing arrive in the region each year, transported through the nearby port of Iquique. Despite some clothes being bought by local clothing merchants or smuggled for resale in Latin America, the clothing mountain continues to grow at an alarming rate of 39,000 tons annually.
The inability to send these garments to municipal landfills arises from the fact that they are non-biodegradable and contain chemical substances. Franklin Zepeda, founder of EcoFibre, a company specializing in transforming clothing into insulation panels, explained that municipal landfills cannot accommodate such waste. Consequently, the colossal pile persists, posing an environmental hazard and exacerbating pollution in the region.
SkyFi's satellite imaging of the clothing mountain aligns with their commitment to providing transparent access to Earth observation data. This technology plays a crucial role in identifying and addressing pressing issues like the fast fashion waste crisis. By offering their web and mobile apps, SkyFi empowers individuals to explore satellite imagery, confirming stories, and gaining a fresh perspective on our world.
The visibility of a mountain of discarded clothes from space serves as a powerful reminder of the excessive waste generated by the fast fashion industry. The need for transformation within this sector is undeniable. As we confront this pressing issue, satellite imagery and technological tools like SkyFi's provide vital support, enabling us to understand and address the environmental challenges we face. Together, we can work towards a more sustainable and responsible future in the fashion industry.
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