The second-hand clothing trade is a well-established business in Chile. Traders import unwanted garments – mainly from Europe and the US - to resell locally and to other Latin American nations. But more than half of the 60,000 tons of clothes imported each year ends up in illegal desert landfills, with dire consequences for the environment and the local community. Most of the clothing we give to charities ends up getting shipped abroad for the second-hand market, supplying both poorer consumers and some landfills.
Class discussion: Does your family give old clothes to charities? How much of used clothing is sold in local charity thrift stores? How much of it is sold by charities to used clothing traders overseas? Giving clothes to charity may save them from our landfills, but are we exporting some of our waste? How does our lifestyle and consumer culture contribute global waste? How does it contribute to global climate change? Are wealthy nations addicted to constantly buying and disposing consumer goods? How does this affect poorer nations?