Piling up clothes you no longer have need for in the wardrobe isn’t the best option. The cupboards are fit to burst and there are bags of clothes constantly waiting by the door heading for the charity shop, it’s indeed at “peak stuff’’.
So far, 55 per cent of the clothes in most wardrobes still go unworn. In some cases, maybe close to 90 per cent even those on a rail that can’t be reached or have not been for some time, honestly they need a clear out.
The issue here is that, the charity shops are full to bursting also. Seventy to 80 per cent of the clothes that are been donated end up in a bale headed to Ghana or elsewhere in Africa, where they will be sold. But unfortunately, next year, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania have agreed to ban the import of second-hand clothing so that they can nurture their own textiles industries. They don’t want our cast-offs, thank you very much. They can make their own (and much better quality, too).
Therefore, charity donation is not necessarily the answer. Instead, it is better to buy less and also buy better. But to really make the most of all the clothing recycling bins on the high street, from M&S to H&M, we need to close the loop, whereby old textiles will be recycled into new clothing and we can stop using precious virgin resources like polyester and cotton, which require non-renewable petroleum and huge quantities of water. Research is underway by H&M Foundation and others, and there are already ways to separate synthetics from natural fibres and re-spin them into reusable, high-quality yarn. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched its New Circular Fibres Initiative last year, to close the loop on textile recycling and regeneration. It will happen. But it will take time.
”One-in-three women bought second-hand clothing last year, an increase of two per cent on the previous year. Just match your garment to the right platform”
Until then, how best to recycle the 365 million unused items, worth approximately £5.4bn, that we women are hoarding in our wardrobes? It can be overwhelming, but don’t let your T-shirt glut suffocate you just yet. Here are a few ideas on how to make the most of your existing wardrobe, incentivise your recycling and make some space, so you can see the clothes from the hangers.
Here Are Tamsin Blanchard Handy Guide To Recycling Your Wardrobe:
LEARN TO VALUE THE CLOTHES YOU HAVE
A hundred and forty million pounds worth of clothing goes to landfill in the UK each year. So, isn’t that like throwing money into a hole? The first way to tackle your own clothing excess is to think of it not in terms of charity but as a cash cow. By all means, if you are feeling charitable, sell your clothes and send the proceeds to your favourite cause. But once you start valuing your clothes you will start to look after them better. You will sew on that button, mend that rip, and wash with care. A recent report by American resale platform, Thredup, estimates that the resale market will be worth $41 billion by 2022, almost half of which will be clothing. To make the most of your clothes, learn to look after them. Check out Traid’s regular and free repair workshops.
CONVERT YOUR WARDROBE INTO A SHOP
As soon as you start listing your unwanted clothes on resale sites like Depop, eBay or Vestiaire Collective, you will have new respect for what you wear. Imagine you are putting price tags on everything you own. There, that made you sit up – you’re sitting on a mini goldmine. That old Ralph Lauren sweatshirt? You can list that for £60 on Depop. Those trainers you’re bored with? Twenty-eight pounds can go towards a new pair – if you’ve looked after them and kept them clean, you could be looking at twice that amount.
One-in-three women bought second-hand clothing last year, an increase of two per cent on the previous year. Just match your garment to the right platform – for sportswear and high street, opt for Depop; more up market designer pieces are better sold through Vestiaire Collective or eBay. A good lesson to take from this is: the better quality the garment, the longer it will last, the better it will wash and the higher the resale value. The mantra “Buy better, buy less” has never been more relevant.
TRY USING THE REGAIN APP
The recently launched ReGAIN App will give you a choice of discount vouchers, which can be used in a variety of online shops (including Expedia.co.uk and hotels.com), in return for your unwanted clothes. All you have to do is donate a minimum of 10 items (using the cardboard box your last online clothes order arrived in), drop it off at your nearest collection point, clear some wardrobe space and give yourself a treat for your trouble. Find all of the details here.
TRY DOING A SWAP SHOP
While shopping binges can make you feel a little empty after the initial high, a clothes swap gives you a warm glow that lasts. The secret is to organise your swapping and make sure your clothes look desirable, rather than a pile on the floor. Hang your swaps on a rail. Provide a mirror, friends and wine. For inspiration, listen to the excellent and inspiring podcast on the subject by Wardrobe Crisis with Clare Press. She talks to the co-founder of Global Fashion Exchange, Patrick Duffy, who aims to swap one million pounds worth of clothing (in weight) by the end of the year.
DO SOME RECYCLING
One-third of clothes in the UK end up in the bin. If you have worn something until it has literally frayed at the seams (not in a good way), or if it’s stained and ripped and you are embarrassed to give it to a charity shop or list it on your now-cult Depop shop, don’t throw it away. Even old underwear, tights and stained T-shirts can be shredded and recycled for industrial use. Visit Recycle Now or ask your local authority about adding textiles to their recycling collections if they don’t already.
ENDEAVOR TO READ UP
For some brilliant advice, tips and information – on everything from what happens to clothes you send to charity to how to make your darning a work of art – check out Fashion Revolution’s Loved Clothes Last zine.
This is part of our Wear Your Clothes week, an editorial series discussing sustainability and transparency within the fashion industry and looking at what we can do to love, treasure and make the most of the clothes that we enjoy wearing
Adapted From: the pool