What do you do with the clothes you no longer wear? Women´s cropped trousers retailer Damart polled 2,000 UK adults to find out.
The results showed that the majority of us – that’s nine out of ten UK adults or 91% of the population – regularly donate clothing to charity, making this the most popular option by far. The second most popular method was recycling with eight out of ten (79%) UK adults using local recycling banks to get rid of old clothes. The survey also revealed that more than two-thirds (72%) of Brits pass on clothing to friends and family.
So how does donating clothes help the environment?
It might not seem obvious how passing on your old clothes benefits the environment but donating clothing can help the environment in several ways.
Fights fast fashion
Fast fashion is increasingly popular, especially amongst social media influencers. However, fast fashion is also bad for the environment. Donating our unwanted or outgrown clothing rather than throwing it away, allows it to be reused or recycled. More people buying and wearing secondhand clothing reduces the demand for fast fashion, in turn, which helps the environment.
Landfill sites are a major source of pollution. Rubbish buried in landfills breaks down very slowly, meaning it will still be an issue for many future generations to come According to the Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP), an estimated £140 million worth of clothing is sent to UK landfill every year. Giving away rather than throwing away your old clothes reduces the amount of unnecessary waste going to landfill sites.
Clothing production uses vast amounts of water. The Ellen Macarthur Foundation New Textiles Economy Report estimates that the fashion industry currently uses around 93 billion cubic metres of water per year. This is a problem as there is already a global water shortage. Secondhand clothing reduces demand for new clothing, saving water and helping the environment.
Reduces Greenhouse Gases also your carbon footprint
Donating our unwanted clothing reduces our personal carbon footprint, as it means fewer items going directly to landfill. Furthermore, the fashion industry contributes to the global warming crisis and climate change via greenhouse gases, which are produced during the manufacture of new clothing. More people donating and wearing old clothing means reduced demand for new clothing and in turn, reduces greenhouse gases.
Helps provide for others
Donating your used clothing can help provide for others. Whether you’re dropping items off at your local charity shop to help raise much-needed funds or donating your clothes to people who have very little, you will be making a difference. Donated clothes are often sold at drastically reduced prices, helping people living in poverty to afford warm, clean clothing. You can also donate clothing to people living in areas ravaged by conflict or natural disasters. These people may have lost everything and your donations are one step in helping them to rebuild their lives.
How can i get involved?
If you want to make more environmentally-friendly fashion choices, donating clothing and buying secondhand can reduce your impact on the planet. When buying new, look for ethical brands with sustainable clothing collections and choose clothing made from recycled or organic materials. You might also decide to create a capsule wardrobe, which contains fewer pieces of clothing that can all be worn together to create different looks.
And as we’ve seen, donating your clothing is hugely beneficial for the environment in many ways and it can also help out others too. Even if you chose to pass your clothing on to friends and family, you’re still reducing the amount of clothing going to landfill and helping to contribute to a circular economy.
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