Clothes and textiles

The fashion industry is responsible for 10 per cent of global carbon emissions. This means that clothes are contributing to climate change more than air and sea travel combined. 

If we continue manufacturing, importing and shopping the way we do, fast fashion could account for a quarter of global carbon emissions by 2050. Textiles production is also the world’s second largest industrial polluter, after oil.

In the UK, we buy more clothes than any other country in Europe. The trend of ‘fast fashion’ has resulted in more than half of items bought being thrown away in less than a year. Around £140 million worth of clothes goes in our general waste bins in the UK every year - that’s around 350,000 tonnes.

Disposing of these clothes and textiles costs the UK around £82 million each year. Globally, less than one per cent of the material used to produce clothing is recycled back into new clothing. Around 12 per cent is recycled into other products, such as insulation or mattress stuffing.

We want to encourage residents to love their clothes and give them as much life as possible before ensuring that they are recycled and not sent to landfill.

Around 30 per cent of the items in our wardrobes haven’t been worn in over a year. If clothes are worn for longer, this helps to extend their carbon, water and waste footprints.

Sustainable clothes swaps

Clothes swaps are a great way to refresh your wardrobe with no cost to you, or the environment. We're hosting sustainable clothes swap events in October. Taking part is simple - bring along your unwanted, good-quality items of clothing or shoes (10 items maximum) during the drop-off time and exchange them for tokens. Then return during a swap time and exchange your tokens for a 'new' item of clothing. 

Location and times

The Forum (first floor), Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, HP1 1DN
  • Thursday 10 October - Drop off: 5pm to 6.30pm - Swap: 7pm to 8:30pm
  • Friday 11 October - Drop off: 10am to 11.30am - Swap: Midday to 1.30pm
  • Saturday 12 October - Drop off: 9am to 10.30am - Swap: 11am to 12.30pm

Event rules

  • Each attendee must bring at least one good-quality item of clothing or pair of shoes to be allowed to swap during the event.
  • A maximum of 10 items per person can be brought into and taken from the event.
  • All items will be swapped item for item (one item = one token).
  • All items must be in a good, wearable condition. Something that has shrunk, is stained or needs repairing (for example, missing buttons, broken zips, loose sequins or beading, rips, tears, fabric pulls or holes, bobbly bits, disintegrating seams or hems, lint or fluff) are not acceptable items and will not be accepted.
  • The items you bring to swap should be in a condition that you would be happy to receive them in  - clean, dry, no strong odours.
  • These clothes swaps are for adults' clothes only, children’s clothes will not be accepted.
  • Jewellery, nightwear, swimwear and underwear will not be accepted.

Love Your Clothes

We proudly support the Love Your Clothes campaign, which helps people take care of their clothes and increase their lifespan. Its website offers top tips on: 

  • Washing and drying clothes correctly
  • Stain removal 
  • Making repairs and alterations 
  • Upcycling items 

Selling and donating

If you no longer want your items and there's still plenty of life left in them, aim to sell or donate them to someone else who can enjoy them.

Clothes can also be sold on online marketplaces such as eBay, Preloved or Facebook Marketplace, sold physically at car boot or jumble sales, swapped for discounts through companies such as reGAIN, or donated to local charity shops.

Next time you need a new garment, try buying second-hand by exploring your local charity shop or looking online - there are plenty of great items waiting to be discovered.

Several charities accept specific items, such as:

Recycling Unwearables

If it can’t be reworn, let it be reborn. Unwearables are clothes that are not destined to be worn again - for example, holey socks, ripped tights or torn T-shirts. Alternatively, they could be items that you wouldn’t pass on to someone else, such as underwear. The good news is these can have a life as something new.

If your items cannot be repaired, reused or worn again, take them along to your nearest neighbourhood textile recycling bank so that they can be reborn. Your ‘unwearables’ can become anything from a carpet or mattress, to sofa stuffing or wiper rags.

These neighbourhood textile recycling banks are only for flat textiles, such as clothes, curtains, duvet covers and pillow cases. Stuffed textiles, such as cushions, duvets and pillows need to be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centre to be recycled.

Remember: never put clothes in your kerbside bins - they cannot be recycled in your blue-lidded bin and if they go in your grey bin they will end up in landfill or incinerated.