On average, each household in Britain spends around £1700 on clothes. Sadly, around 350,000 tonnes of this worth about £140m goes in the bin and ultimately ends up in landfill. Campaigns like ‘Love your Clothes’ are working with consumers and retailers to find solutions to this problem. But why is this such a major issue, and what can you do right now to help?
The manufacturing process for mass-produced clothes is extremely energy and water intensive. According to Greenpeace, it takes around 10,000 litres of water to grow enough cotton for one pair of jeans. Every time a pair of jeans gets thrown away, that’s a huge amount of water wasted. Growing plants for textiles also requires the use of pesticides, which can become pollutants.
Synthetic fibres don’t do much better. They’re made using resources such as oil and petroleum. These resources are finite, and should be used sparingly, in much the same way as we are all striving now to use less plastics. Yet the average consumer is now buying somewhere in the region of 400% more clothing than they did two decades ago.
Dyes, fabric softeners and other chemicals involved in clothes manufacturing can be toxic. These toxins can work their way into waterways, causing big problems for wildlife. When clothing is dumped in landfill and not dealt with by a professional rubbish removal company like Clearabee, these toxins can be released when the clothing starts to biodegrade.
The Three ‘R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The most obvious way to reduce this impact on the environment is to reduce the amount of clothing you buy. Do you really need that tenth pair of jeans? Or that hundredth scarf or pair of gloves? Take a look through your wardrobe and see what’s in there. In one year, it was estimated that Britain had £30bn worth of clothes hanging around in wardrobes and drawers that were never worn.
It’s tempting to think that having a clear out and arranging for rubbish removal to take the old clothes away is the quickest fix. But is there someone that could use those clothes? Have a check with friends and family members and see if your cast-offs are someone else’s treasure.
If the clothes are genuinely unwanted, make sure you’re booking a rubbish removal service that knows how to deal with old clothes. Many can be recycled, and don’t ever need to see a landfill site. There are lots of great ideas online for making use out of old clothes that are safe and kind to the environment, including making toys out of old socks, quilting, and using material from one item of clothing to repair or ‘upcycle’ another.
One of the most popular and easiest ways to ensure clothes get reused is to donate them to charity. Any local charity shop will be able to let you know what their policy is on second-hand clothing, and many can arrange collections. A rubbish removal for you could mean a whole new wardrobe for someone else, plus money going to a good cause.
Clothing recycling bins are often found in supermarket carparks or recycling points. These clothes are often only reused if in excellent condition though, so if you want to be sure your unwanted clothes are given new life, speaking to a charitable organisation face to face is the best bet.
Clearabee has a track record of diverting 90% of items collected away from landfill via professional rubbish removal services. We’re doing our bit to help the planet, and we’re happy to help you do yours.