“And this is Chile’s Atacama desert,” Felix said. He was guiding Orak, Scorch, and Verum around the desert. “We are in a country called Chile in South America. And do you know that this is the driest place on Earth?”

“Dry and hot,” Verum said as she wiped her sweating forehead. Orak agreed.

“It isn’t that hot,” Scorch brushed them away. The four Mysticals walked ahead.

“What is that? It doesn’t look like a dune,” Felix said, narrowing his eyes.

“I think it’s a huge pile of clothes,” Orak said.

“I know why there is a huge pile of clothes in the middle of a desert,” Scorch said, “They are second-hand or used clothes.”

Scorch explained when the Mysticals looked on clueless, “Chile has a second-hand clothing trade business. It means they buy unwanted garments from the United States and countries in Europe and Asia. They resell it in the country and other South American countries. But every year, more than half the clothes don’t get sold. They end up in the desert where they are burned!”

“Oh no,” Felix could smell the smoke now, “burning is harmful to the environment. The smoke can affect the health of the people who live nearby.”

“You’re right, Felix,” Scorch said, “One of the largest garbage dumps for clothes is in Alto Hospicio part of the country.”

“But why does this problem even exist?” Verum wanted to know.

“Fast fashion is to be blamed,” Scorch replied, “Fast fashion is cheap clothing produced on a large scale, depending on the fashion trend. But the trends in fashion change quickly. Within a few months, one style of clothing can go out of fashion. It creates a lot of waste.

The material of the clothes is also creating a lot of problems. Nowadays, clothes are made of polyester. They are not made of cotton. Polyester is a synthetic (made from chemicals) fiber. It takes around 200 years to decompose!”

Orak asked if there is a solution to this problem.

“The authorities are trying to solve the problem but there is no quick and easy solution. New Chilean law holds the importers responsible for waste. But there aren’t many resources to control the illegal transport of clothing to dumping areas such as deserts,” Scorch said.

“I think a part of the solution is to be environmentally aware. Importers should only choose good quality clothes to buy. The countries that sell the clothes should also sell only good quality clothes,” Felix said.

“You’re right again, Felix!” Scorch said.