STYLE

Over 235 Million Items Of Clothing Will End Up In Landfill Sites In The UK This Year - Here's How To Change That

'The average British woman hoards £285 worth of clothing in their wardrobes that they will never wear'

06/04/2017 15:51 | Updated 03 May 2017

Recycling our food waste has now become commonplace in homes across the country, but doing the same with our clothing has yet to catch on.

An estimated 235 million items of clothing in the UK will reach a landfill site this spring, reported The Guardian

A recent commissioned survey of 2,000 people carried out by supermarket Sainsbury’s, found three-quarters of consumers bin clothing instead of recycling or donating them to a charity shop because they didn’t realise they could do so. 

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The survey found that people will throw away around 19 items, with seven going directly into the bin, totalling around 680 million garments as they clear out their wardrobes this spring - with 235 million pieces of clothing reaching a UK landfill.

Sainsbury’s, in collaboration with Oxfam, has set up collection points within their stores, urging (and making it easy) for people to donate their unwanted clothes.

The study delved deeper into the reasons behind a lack of fashion recycling: 49 percent felt the items were passed their prime to donate, 16 percent believed they couldn’t find the time to get to a charity shop, and 6 percent didn’t know it was actually possible to recycle garments. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the fashion business is responsible for 85 percent of all textiles that make their way to landfill sites – around 21 billion tonnes.

Blogging recently for The Huffington Post UK, Emma Grace Bailey, founder of SUSS UK - a recently established company that promotes and helps to raise awareness around sustainability - shared advice on recycling clothing: 

“If you’re looking for options closer to home, there are a number of growing brands that buy or source old, unwanted clothing and make them into something brand new to sell on. Everything in Colour is one such brand based in Hackney Wick, and uses end of line textile waste and vintage fabrics to make new items.

“Mud Jeans are all about circular denim. Their ‘Lease a Jeans’ initiative allows you to rent a pair of jeans for a year then return them to the brand who will clean and recycle them into a new pair for someone else. 

“If all else fails, swap clothes with friends to ensure they have the longest life possible. A year down the line do the same thing and get a new wardrobe completely free of charge without sending anything to landfill.”

According to the McKinsley Global Fashion Index, at the end of 2016 the fashion industry as a whole was worth an estimated 2.4 trillion. So it comes as no surprise the apparel industry accounts for ten percent of all global carbon emissions, the primary human cause of global warming.  

Fast fashion is the killer. Viewing your consumption habits differently could be the key to change: 

“Ensuring you buy an item of clothing that you absolutely love and actually need is another way to help,” said Bailey. 

“The average British woman hoards £285 worth of clothing in their wardrobes that they will never wear, the equivalent of £30 billion of unworn clothing, as stated by Carry Somers, founder of Fashion Revolution at the SUSS UK Sustainable September talks last year. Avoiding this situation is easy.

“Don’t put more than one piece of clothing on a hanger at a time so it’s clear what’s in your wardrobe and you don’t accidentally buy something you already own.

“Read the garment label of an item before buying it too. If it’s dry clean only and you realistically won’t dry clean it, don’t buy it.

“But do repeat buy if it’s something you really love - you’ll wear it and wearing your clothes is important. Ideally wearing an item at least 30 times will go some way towards a sustainable future.”

The Higg Index launched in 2011. This apparel and footwear self-assessment collection is working on a standardised supply chain measurement tool so garment tags can educate shoppers about their purchases’ social and environmental effects.

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