I came across a report a few days ago which stated that £140 million worth of clothing was sent to landfill in the UK alone; this figure is shocking! It equates to 30kg per household in the UK. It then got me thinking, how can we try to reduce this figure? It’s all too easy to go through the cupboards and just throw things out that we don’t need, but we really need to all start making an effort to be more sustainable in the way we both shop for and dispose of clothes. Did you know that the fashion industry is the 2nd most polluting in the world behind oil and gas?! Neither did I, and we all need to do something about it as soon as possible.
I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to buy clothing more sustainably. It’s hard to do this all the time, because right now sustainable fashion is really just taking off, but one thing that’s easy to do is to swap from buying new clothing from fast fashion brands to purchasing second hand from charity shops or online auctions. It’s so easy to give clothing a new lease of life instead of sending it to land fill.
I wanted to find out a bit more about what the industry is doing to tackle sustainability and fashion waste so I emailed Tom Lovelace from Hawthorn, a clothing manufacturer based in London to ask his thoughts:
“Thanks for contacting me, Jenni! Fashion waste is almost as big of a problem as the creation of synthetic fibres. It’s just as important in fact to consider the end of life of a garment and what happens to it then, as it is to consider actually making it sustainably. With 350,000 tonnes of unwanted garments sent to landfill each year, there is obviously more that can be done. What we want to do is see the government do more to encourage clothing donations and recycling. At the moment most councils have recycling centres where you can go and give old and unwanted clothing as long as it’s in a clean and usable condition, but in reality, most people don’t have the time! It’s far easier in between a busy schedule to throw old clothing in the bin than it is to load it in to the car and sit in the queue for the recycling centre. A simple one monthly collection of textile waste would go a long way to reducing the amount of clothing which goes to land fill. As for donations, there are actually far more places than you might think who accept unwanted garments. The Salvation Army, Oxfam and you can even go to agents who will buy old and unwanted clothing from you to be sold on to charities in developing countries.
The Salvation Army have done a graphic showing how they help people using their clothing banks, and it’s really amazing to see how many people can be helped by filling up a clothing bank. When a single clothing bank is full, the effect of that is that they can house 65 people. They can provide 90 hot meals and also help 50 kids go on their first holiday. The real world changes we can make by just donating clothing is incredible!
If it were made a little easier people, and it were a little more publicised, we could reduce the amount of clothing going to landfill easily.”
I totally agree with Tom and those figures of what donating clothes can mean is mind blowing! We need to do more, and we need to act fast. If you’re reading this, think next time about all the options available to recycle rather than send your old unwanted clothing to land fill. If we all do this rather than throwing away our old clothes, we will be creating a better environment for our future generations.