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UK discards 711,000 tonnes of used textiles per year

A recent report from WRAP - The Waste and Resources Action Programme - has shared some shocking facts about the UK textiles market.

The highlights of the 2024 report, include some of the following scary insights...

  • In 2022, the UK consumed 1.42 million new textile products.

  • The average cost of each items of clothing was £16.70 in 2023, down by 2% since 2015. Cheaper clothes equals more people buying them for one-off usage.

  • 711,000 tonnes of used textiles were discarded in household bins or at Household Recycling Centres in 2021 - that's an average of 35 items per person per year on average.

  • The price per tonne for textile bank donations and charity shops has dropped by 57.5% from 2013 to 2023.

There's a glimmer of hope on the horizon however, with the finding that out of the 1.45 million tonnes of used textiles generated in 2022, 650,000 tonnes were diverted to reuse and recycling from end-of-life disposal.

Factor such as the UK's exit from the EU, the covid-19 pandemic and a cost-of-living-crisis are being cited as reasons for this grave situation. Hopefully the industry will start to take a serious look at this and consider how they can move towards practices that are more sustainable and circular.

Can you make a difference?

Despite it being the textile industry (and others) who need to make fundamental changes, there are some ways in which you can hopefully help.

Buy second hand and preloved, not new

Buying clothing from charity shop has always been popular and this is still the case, with more than 11,200 currently in towns and cities across the UK.

Another good options is buying from second hand 'thrifters', who frequently sell unwanted clothing via their Instagram or TikTok accounts.

Also the online platforms such as Vinted, Depop or eBay have become extremely popular, particularly with people who are looking to find clothing from particular brands at much, much lower prices than when they were sold as new.

Recycle your clothing correctly

Think before you throw! Make sure you don't dispose of clothing in your household bin with the rest of your rubbish.

A great option is to use a service like the one offered by our partner reDonate. They allow you to book a free collection and they then take the clothes to be sorted and processed, then make a donation back to us on your behalf.

For a small charity like us, these funds are critical to allow us to do what we need to do to help others.

Find out more and book a collection here.

If your area isn't covered by reDonate, then you can instead take them to a charity shop or textile donation bin.

And if they are of particular value - such as a rain jacket - then you can take them to be repaired locally. One example of a company doing this brilliantly is Rooted Ocean, who are based in Bude, Cornwall. They even offer 'repairs by post' for people who aren't local.

As above with the online clothing platforms, you can look to sell your unwanted clothing, which means you can reduce your waste AND make some money in the process.

Even clothes with holes in can be upcycled and turned into craft projects, cleaning cloths or padding. So think twice before you throw your clothes in the bin!

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash



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