For many followers of fashion, there’s little more exciting than going shopping and piecing together a fantastic new outfit. However, while many of us have dressing to impress down to a fine art, there is a growing problem hiding away in the forgotten recesses of most wardrobes.
The average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes, but around 30% of our wardrobes haven’t been worn in the last 12 months, according to a report by WRAP. In addition, the same research estimates that we send around 350,000 tonnes of clothing waste to landfills each year, worth a total of £140 million.
By taking more responsibility for how we pass on our old clothes, we can help to reduce these figures significantly. There are many ways that you can declutter your wardrobe without simply throwing garments in the bin — let’s take a closer look at five of the most effective.
Donate to charity
There are many charitable organisations up and down the country that are always on the lookout for used and unwanted clothing to sell in their shops. By donating to charities like Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, and Cancer Research UK, you can be sure that your garments are going towards a good cause. Handing over your items is usually very easy, with many organisations offering local pick-up or store drop-off options that can help you fit a donation into your busy lifestyle.
Earn some money back
If you could do with some extra money in your pocket, you may be surprised by how much of your clothing you can sell to others for a reasonable price. Selling online is an obvious choice, and auctioning your odds and ends on eBay will get your items in front of the biggest audience possible.
For more specialist or antique items, visiting a vintage store where they’ll understand the true worth of your retro garments will provide the most value. And, designer clothes or jewellery can often be sold easily to stores that know how to value them accurately, such as H&T, where you may find they are worth more than you initially thought.
Take advantage of brand schemes when you shop
Many brands are responding to the issue of clothing waste by creating schemes where you can donate your old items in-store. This is something that has been strengthened by an industry-wide commitment made at the recent Copenhagen Fashion Summit, which saw many labels sign up to creating a more circular fashion system.
Most companies will accept garments of any label, with various rewards issued for their return. This makes it very easy to plan ahead with your shopping trips — when you feel the need to buy new clothes, you can simply bring some of your unwanted stuff along to create instant space in your wardrobe.
Attend or organise a clothing swap
There are quite a few local clothing swaps around the UK that are proving to be very successful in the local community. At these events, people bring along their old clothes to swap for others that they like, preventing them from going to waste. Leftover items are usually donated to charities after the dust has settled.
You can attend one of these meet-ups or even set up one of your own if there isn’t one running in your area. This article from the Guardian has a good list of local clothing swaps in the UK as well as a step-by-step guide for setting up your own.
Upcycle your old items
You can cut down on the amount of clothes you throw away by casting a creative eye over your old garments and upcycling them into something new. This requires a bit of textiles talent, but you can create some unique pieces from your old items that no-one else will be wearing. The Sewing Loft Blog has an article called 100 ways to upcycle your clothing that has some great suggestions, from turning a dress into a shirt to turning jeans into skinny jeans. Give it a read and see if you can apply it to your own wardrobe.
So, there you have it: five things you can do to prevent your unwanted clothes from going to landfill. Take a few of these points on board and you can do your bit to solve a growing issue in the fashion world.