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 host sustainable clothes swap events every spring and autumn. Read about our latest clothes swap.
Taking part is simple - bring along your unwanted, good-quality items of clothing (10 items maximum) during the designated drop-off time in exchange for credit. You will earn one credit per item. Then return during the swap time and use your credit to pick up some 'new' items.
Location and times
Our swaps are held at The Forum (First floor, Conference Rooms 1 and 2) in Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, HP1 1DN.
Our next sustainable clothes swaps are between 26 and 29 March 2020. We will also be holding some between 22 and 25 October 2020 - further details to be announced closer to the time.
Thursday 26 March
- Drop off: 5pm - 6:30pm
- Swap: 7pm - 8pm
Friday 27 March
- Drop off: 8.30am - midday
- Swap: 12.30pm - 2pm
Sunday 29 March - Super Sunday (all credit is worth double, subject to availability)
- Drop off: 10.30am - midday
- Swap: 12.30pm - 2pm
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be added to our clothes swap mailing list so that you are notified of all our future clothes swap events.
- Each attendee must bring at least one item to be allowed to swap during the event.
- Items accepted: good quality adults' clothes only, children’s clothes will not be accepted.
- Items not accepted: shoes, bags, jewellery, nightwear, swimwear and underwear.
- A maximum of 10 items per person can be brought to the event.
- All items will be swapped item for item (one item equals one credit) - with the exception of Super Sunday when all credit will be doubled, subject to availability. For example, bring 10 items, take back up to 20.
- 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. If you have any unwearable clothing, this can either be repaired or recycled in a textile bank.
- 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.
- Bring your own reusable bags to take items home - carrier bags will not be provided.
- You can drop off your items at one event, and use your credit at another event - all credit will expire at 2pm on Sunday 29 March.
- Any items remaining by the end of Sunday at 2pm will be saved for another swap or donated to charity.
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:
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.