Instead of throwing them away!
Throw-away culture or fast fashion is the cycle of constantly making and consuming new clothes in order to keep up with the latest trends. It is extremely harmful for the environment, with hundreds of items of clothing disposed of when it is no longer in fashion.
E – retailers and fast fashion giants with low prices along with social media have worsened the issue. Can we ever throw away throw – away culture? Or is it enough to just make an effort to be environmentally conscious in our fashion choices? Before binning the clothes you no longer wear, help combat throw-away culture and try these 5 things first.
Donating your unwanted clothes can give them a new lease of life. Donating your old clothes to charity not only provides affordable clothing for those who need it but helps the charities too. Make sure the clothes are clean and in good condition before donating. Some animal charities might accept old clothing which can be used for pet bedding. Check with your local charities before donating, as not all of them will accept clothes. Local charity shops closed due to Covid restrictions? Give the clothes away instead! For instance, Facebook has a wide variety of sell / swap / share groups, or use platforms like Gumtree, Craigslist and FreeCycle.
2. Recycle – Clothing and Textiles
If your unwanted clothes are not suitable to donate, recycle them! Recycling can give textiles a new life as something else, meaning a reduce in waste. You can find clothing and textile banks in supermarkets, car parks and charity shops. Visit Recycle Now to find your local recycling point. Popular fashion brand H&M have recycling boxes in store, offering a 15% discount card for every bag of textiles donated.
Selling your unwanted clothes is a great way to make spare cash and reduce waste. Platforms like Ebay, Vinted, Depop, ThreadUp and even Facebook Marketplace make selling your unwanted garments easy. Instagram stories are also being used to sell unwanted clothing and shoes. One person’s trash is another’s treasure, as the saying goes.
However, be aware of selling fees and always check the terms and conditions. Buying pre – loved clothing can deter people from engaging in throw-away culture and reduce waste too. Personally, a lot of my wardrobe is made up of pre – loved items and I always enjoy styling them with clothes I already own as they feel ‘new’ to me.
4. Swap with friends
Exchanging clothes with friends or family can be a great way to reduce waste. Instead of throwing them away, you all get new pieces for free! Items in good condition can be kept and handed down to family members. Or, if you have a piece of clothing you like but don’t wear much, share it with a friend! That way, it isn’t going to waste and you can always ask for it back when you want to wear it again [think – The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (2005).]
Alternatively, old clothes could be repurposed in a number of ways. Cotton is great for making reusable facemasks or make up wipes. Why not get creative! Turn a t – shirt into a tote bag, or spare material into a hair scrunchie. Upcycling can turn a cool print into a patch, cushion cover or even part of a blanket with the right skills and materials. If your unwanted items aren’t in great condition, use them as rags for cleaning or art.
“Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.” – Vivienne Westwood
In 2018, Britons reportedly ‘binned clothes worth £12.5 billion last year (2017) as the rise of “throwaway” fashion led to 300,000 tonnes of textiles ending up in landfill.‘ By doing our bit to shop sustainably when possible and dispose of our unwanted clothes ethically, there is hope that statistics such as these will reduce in future.
Of course, it is important to address the fact that it is fast fashion giants and big corporations who can create real change! Sustainability is a privilege and fast fashion is often the only affordable option for some.
Read about how the fashion industry is using technology to be more sustainable here.