The Great British weather is nothing but unpredictable, with showers and heatwaves all in the same week – with the ever-changing weather condition, comes our ever-changing outfit choices. Altering from Summer to Winter wardrobes is a regular occurrence for many, and now with lockdown restrictions lifted, and many of us out and about more, our outfit choices will no doubt change even more frequently.
In almost every wardrobe we will have items we haven’t worn in years, clothes that no longer fit, or even those that no longer match your style that you have no intention of wearing again. What happens to these unwanted clothes? Studies show that most of these clothes are simply thrown into the general waste bin, where they then get sent to landfill. In 2018, around 350,000 tonnes of clothing was sent to landfill, a staggering figure. Broken down, it works out that of every 30kg of clothing disposed of, only 4.5kg of it is recycled.
This shocking statistic is gratified when you realise that the majority of these clothes are in near to perfect condition, and are not even close to their ‘end of life’ yet. Other clothing items, whilst they may be in a poorer condition, with small tears or damages, are very easily repaired to once again near to perfect standards, making them look as good as new. Yet sadly, landfill seems to be the new home of unwanted clothing and textiles, regardless of condition. If we re-think our attitude towards our clothing, and other textiles (such as curtains, bedding, rugs etc.) and understand that these can be recycled, we will cut down on waste levels and thus carbon emissions dramatically. Here is a few tips on where to start:
Many of our unwanted clothes are still in very good condition and are wearable, which means that they can be recycled to either be made into new textile materials or go to charities in need. There are thousands of textile recycling bins around the UK, mainly based at Supermarkets or community centers where clothes can be bagged and recycled at no cost. Many charities also offer a free doorstep collection of bagged clothes, these bags are often posted through letterboxes or can be requested online and posted straight to your door.
Similarly to recycling, clothing and other textiles which are in good condition can be donated to charity shops or other individuals in need, to be re-used. These worthy causes would make great use out of your unwanted items, that would otherwise just be put into the general waste. As well as making room in your wardrobe, and preventing clothing from being sent to landfills you are also supporting charities or other struggling individuals.
Repair or Rejuvenate
Of course, not all of the clothes we dispose of are still in good condition, often the reason we are getting rid of them is that they have become worn or damaged over time. There are only a small amount of extreme cases where the items cannot be repairs, but 9 times out of 10 these clothing items can be salvaged or even re-purposed into a new item. A simple needle and thread or sewing machine can give your textiles a new lease of life and up-cycling old items into something new is a growing trend to help reduce textile waste.
Disposal should always be seen as a last resort, make sure you are carefully handling your unwanted clothing, ensuring they are fulfilling their full potential. These 3 steps will help you reduce your textile waste and live more sustainably.