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Reduce clothing waste

Recycling symbol

People making clothes around the world

Around £140 million worth of clothing is sent to landfill each year in the UK. If every UK shopper bought one second-hand fashion item instead of a new one in a month, 6000 tonnes worth of textiles could be saved from disposal.

Whether it's trying to organise an overflowing closet or keeping up with the latest fashion trends, managing your clothes can be a real challenge. Knowing the right places to buy, sell, or donate the clothes you no longer need can make these tasks quicker, easier, and better for the planet.

How do clothes impact the climate?

With 45% of UK citizens buying clothes at least once a month, the fashion and textiles industry races to meet demands, leading to overproduction and unsustainable practices.

The production of clothes contributes to 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, as well as biodiversity loss and water scarcity. To produce a single pair of blue jeans, it can take up to 10,000 litres of water because of the way they are made.

On top of this, clothes and textiles are also constantly thrown away and sent to landfills if not recycled correctly. All of these factors contribute to climate change.

What to do with clothes you no longer need

Activities to reduce clothes waste

Here's some information on what you can do with the clothes you no longer want:

Donate them to charity shops

There are plenty of different charity shops in your area that will take clothing and textiles at no cost. Donating prevents your clothes from going to landfill and gives them a chance to find a new home. Clothes should be clean and in fairly good condition to be able to be resold.

Simply put your old items in a bag you don't need and drop them off at the shop. Make sure you do this during opening hours - leaving bags outside of shops is considered fly tipping.

Drop them off at recycling points

Clothes and textiles can also be donated at different recycling points, including donation banks, which are usually stationed at car parks or in clothing stores.

Find recycling points near you at RecycleNow - recycle an item.

Do a clothes swap

If you're looking to refresh your wardrobe and get rid of some old items, you can do both by partaking in a clothes swap, or arrange your own one with friends and family. Simply bring along the clothes you don't need anymore and trade them with items that others bring along.

How to shop more sustainably

Woman trying on clothes in shop changing room

Besides bringing your own shopping bag, here's how you can make your clothes shop more sustainable:

Shop locally

Shipping clothes across the world uses energy and resources, releasing greenhouse gas emissions.

By buying clothes that are locally produced and/or buying in-person instead of online, the distance your clothes have travelled vastly decreases, making your purchase more sustainable.

It's also an opportunity to support local independent businesses.

Shop at second-hand stores

There are plenty of different second-hand stores that sell a variety of pre-loved items, such as charity shops or vintage stores.

Not only do you get clothes at good prices, items that would otherwise go to landfill or incineration are given a new home.

Online thrift shops

If you can't make it in-person, there are lots of online stores and re-sell apps that also sell second-hand items at discounted prices.

Research your brands

If you are purchasing new items, make sure the place you're buying from is using ethical practices and sourcing materials sustainably.

As a consumer, you can choose to spend your money on items from brands that aren't investing in fossil fuels, using scarce materials, or overproducing their stock.

Making fashion more circular - Textiles Action Network

People walking in a loop

Organisations across the globe are working hard to make the fashion industry more sustainable. At the core of a circular economy is the reuse and recycling of materials and items, extending their life cycle and minimising waste.

The Textiles Action Network was created by WRAP to provide a framework on how to create sustainable goals and action plans. It brings together governments, brands, designers, non-governmental organisations, and anyone who is looking to get involved.

If you're looking to start your own initiative, you can get in touch with the team at WRAP to find out more about how they can support you in achieving your goals.

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