Before The Wasteland: A workshop to make your clothes last
by Nicolas Hormazabal
Nov 27, 2023
Clothing was never designed to be a disposable good. This fact was further exacerbated with the invention of nylon, the first "fully synthetic" fiber developed at DuPont's chemical firm in the 1930s to replace the silk in parachutes and for other military uses like ropes. Synthetic fibers were designed to be more durable with the capability of stretching, waterproofing and as a solution against biodegradable products. Consumerism in the clothing industry has had catastrophic consequences worldwide, with tangible environmental effects in the Atacama desert in Chile. 59.000 tonnes of second-hand and unsold clothing arrive from North America, Europe and Asia at Alto Hospicio free-duty zone at the Iquique port in the north of Chile every year. Part of it is sold along the country, mainly in Santiago, about 1,800km away. But at least 39,000 tonnes stays in this duty-free zone due to the tariffs involved with taking the clothes out or disposing of it responsibly in the countries that sent them. Most of these textiles are not biodegradable and have chemical products, so they aren’t accepted in municipal landfills. Therefore they are dumped in the desert next to some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the area.
The workshop provided an opportunity to share our individual values, choices, and practices regarding consumerism.
We designed this workshop as a response to consumer-based culture and its environmental consequences in the global south, specifically the Atacama desert in Chile. For this reason we are interested in sharing techniques that help elongate the lifespan of textiles and change our relationship with clothing on an individual level. We will share the history behind the techniques and different cultural approaches to the reutilization of materials. As well as offer an insight into the history of extractivism in Chile and deconstruct the colonial relationship of the distant geographies we inhabit.