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.

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. 

If you do need to buy something, try and get it second-hand rather than new. There are many charity shops in Dacorum, as well as some great pre-loved and vintage shops. You can also try Facebook groups and apps such as Depop and Vinted.

Sustainable clothes swaps

Clothes hanging on a rail to illustrate Dacorum Borough Council's Sustainable Clothes Swap events

Clothes swaps are a great way to refresh your wardrobe with no cost to you or the environment. We normally host sustainable clothes swap events every spring and autumn.

Taking part is simple - bring along your unwanted, good-quality items of clothing (10 items maximum) during the designated drop-off time, and then return during any of the swap times to pick up some 'new items. However many good quality items you brought in is the amount that you are allowed to take away with you.

Next events

If you would like to be added to the clothes swap mailing list to find out about future events, please email recycle@dacorum.org.uk to express your interest.

Past events

More than 170 people came to our autumn 2022 clothes swaps and brought along 1,423 items, of which 96 per cent were taken. In total, this saved 272.25kg of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) from being produced, had the clothing ended up in landfill. At the end of the final event, an additional opportunity was given to residents in particular need to take clothes without prior donation. The remaining winter clothes were donated to the Air Ambulance and Cancer Research UK charities where they will be sold on to support these causes. 

Expand all

Clothes swap rules

  • Swap rules
    • We can accept a maximum of 10 items per person in adult sizes only
    • Items accepted: good-quality clothes in adult sizes
    • Items not accepted: bad-quality items (for example: dirty, ripped, torn, stained, or with broken zips) shoes, bags, jewellery, underwear, nightwear, swimwear or babies and children’s clothes
    • This event is for good quality, unwanted clothing only. If you have any unwearable clothing, this can either be repaired or recycled at a textile bank
    • Bring your own reusable bags to take items home - carrier bags will not be provided
    • All credit from these swaps will expire at the end of the event and cannot be used at future swaps
    • Any items remaining at the end of the event will either be donated to charity or saved for another swap.

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:

Second Hand September

To help tackle the issues of fast fashion and wasteful consumer culture, last year (2021) we were supporting Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign. We encouraged residents to get involved simply by not buying anything new all month. Alternatively, opting for second hand instead.

To celebrate this campaign and raise awareness of fast fashion and excessive consumption, we teamed up with three local second-hand businesses, who each supplied a voucher as a competition prize: 

Thank you to everyone who sent in their second-hand gems, we loved seeing the pictures and reading the stories of each item. Congratulations to our winners, Vicki, Gio and Tina and Mick. 

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 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.