Everyone has one… And after the lockdown-inspired wardrobe dextoxes and furious Marie Kondo-ing that occurred, we guarantee it’s grown. You might even have more than one. Er, what are we on about? The charity shop pile. And, if you’re more switched on to sustainability, perhaps there’s a textile recycling pile too.
Right now, due to the frenzy of purging anything that didn’t spark joy from our wardrobes, charity shops are drowning in donations.
Guilty of binning your old clothes? Here’s how to build a sustainable wardrobe so you’ll never throw clothes away again
The problem with the fast fashion purchases we wear once or twice and then donate, is that the quality is often so low it can’t be resold (lightbulb moment: ah-ha, so that’s why it cost me less than a coffee). Why would you buy a worn dress for a fiver when you could get a brand new one? (Obviously, this thinking doesn’t take into consideration the intense need for planet-stripping resources to make the new top.) As well as being low-quality, donations are often stained, with unravelling hems. Less distressed, more destroyed.
The rule is, if you wouldn’t buy it, don’t donate it.
Before you drop off a pile of unwanted clothes always check that your local shop is taking donations. At the moment many stores are taking a break from accepting cast-offs while they work through the lockdown-induced backlog. So what to do in the meantime?
Renting your clothes has just been called out as the least environmentally-friendly fashion option – but is rental fashion *really* worse than binning your clothes?
There’s an app for that. The Regain app works with the British Red Cross to get your clothes reused, recycled or remade while you get discount coupons in return. Winner, winner. Download a free label, ship your clothes from over 25,000 drop off points around the UK and they will either be donated to a charity of your choice (if they are in decent condition) or go on to have a second life. The app works with the British Red Cross and a partner network of textile recycling firms, research initiatives, students, fashion designers and upcyclers – as well as charity shops – to ensure even those shredded and stained pieces don’t end up in the bin.
At the moment, approximately 1.2 million tonnes of clothing are discarded every year, but only 25% ends up being recycled. The rest ends up in landfill, although 99% of the natural fibres the UK chucks could be recycled (even if it’s not good enough for the charity shop).
This wardrobe staple is killing the planet and you’re probably wearing them right now
If you have old shoes – rather than clothes – Schuh take them back for recycling, and offer a voucher in return. Nike recycle old trainers too, turning them into new performance kit – and playgrounds. Apply for a bag online then drop them instore or at DPD points. TK Maxx, M&S, H&M, Primark and Monki stores all take donations – although check that their schemes are up and running post Covid. And maybe, next time you’re tempted to go shopping, consider whether you really, really, need it or whether it will end up in a charity shop before the season is done.
Read more from Glamour UK Fashion Director at large Alex Fullerton here or follow her on Instagram @alexandrafullerton
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