According to The True Cost, the world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. We also know that the average person already has about 127 items of clothing in their wardrobe.
So if we already have so many clothes, why do we need more?
Furthermore, as a result of buying new garments, we often push our old clothes to the back of the closet and even throw them out altogether.
As a result, every year tonnes of perfectly good clothes end up in landfills.
The question is what should we do with our old clothes, and how do we avoid adding even more waste to our environment?
Why Should We Recycle Our Old Clothes?
If we take a step back to review what’s happening to our planet, the impacts of climate change are becoming more and more prominent. It is evident that our future and the future of the planet are at risk.
Clothing waste and its Impact on the environment
It is no secret that the fashion industry is the 2nd biggest contributor to pollution on our planet.
Masses of unwanted clothes are simply being thrown out, adding to the heaps of synthetic waste already in our landfills and releasing synthetic particles into our atmosphere and oceans.
Mass production also increases carbon emissions due to materials, manufacturing, and distribution. Additionally, unethical standards of production are still being implemented around the world.
Although this may seem like a harsh reality, it’s the current status of our planet.
Fortunately, there is hope along the horizon and change is definitely on the way.
Every day more and more organizations and individuals are more interested in change, which is the first step to contributing to a sustainable future for the planet. Zero waste and slow fashion movements, both encourage new generations to actively take part in that change.
Fashion has a significant influence on sustainability. If you want to make a difference, why don’t start with the clothes we own.
What To Do With Your Old Clothes?
Firstly, once you have made the time to go through your wardrobe, create three sections to categories your clothes:
One section should be for clothes that you fully intend on wearing and keeping, the second section is for the clothes that may need repairing. Lastly, the third pile is for clothes you know you will never wear again.
Once you have these piles, it will make it easier to move on the clothes you don’t want.
1. Repair, Reuse, Relove
So now you have your pile of clothes in need of repair, look for ways to go around mending them. Don’t be afraid to have a go sewing or mending them yourself; there are tons of video tutorials on YouTube about sewing and mending.
Alternatively, you can support your local seamstress and take your clothes to get repaired. Once they are repaired, reuse them mix and match old tops with newer jeans or vice versa.
Reloving your old clothes may be challenging due to the fast-paced environment of fashion, but if you truly love something, wear it with confidence. Take the time to review your closet and start to relove your old clothes!
2. Reinvent and Recreate
Sometimes our clothes are in excellent condition however no longer to our style or taste. Often many of us may throw out fairly new clothes instead of looking at recycling to promote sustainable fashion.
This is the time to get creative! Remember, fashion is circular, not linear; recreate your clothes into something new.
Fashion is constantly evolving, and more likely than not trends reappear and come full circle; truthfully, fashion is what you make it.
For example, if you have old jeans, create them into shorts for the summer, or add accessories like belts or additional fabric.
Look at refreshing the clothes already you have before moving them on.
When you’ve got clothes that you know you’ll never wear again but are still in great condition, the best thing is to make money from them.
The saying one man’s treasure applies here, as you’ll be surprised by the amount of money you may receive from clothes you don’t like.
The resale clothing market is set to more than double to $64 billion in the next five years.thredUP
That means there are also lots of opportunities to make money from outgrown clothes.
There are many different apps and online thrift stores you can sell your clothes on, some of the most popular including eBay and Depop.
Reselling is a great way to make a little extra cash!
4. Donate to a Charity or Thrift Shop
When you try to recreate, repair, or resell your clothes and nothing seems to work an alternative option is to donate or swap your old clothes.
Donating is a great way to help those in need and support your local charity shop or thrift store. You are essentially allowing the charity to grow and give back to those who may not afford it.
Additionally, buying second-hand clothing, or thrifting, has grown increasingly popular in recent years as a way of adding to your wardrobe a clothing item in an environmentally conscious and enjoyable way.
5. Swap with Friends
Creating a clothing swap is something I have done with my best friends. It is a fun, social, and environmentally conscious way to get rid of unwanted clothing while acquiring new pieces for yourself.
Both, donating and swapping should be more promoted. It’s one of the best ways to stop an unwanted item from going to waste and to promote recycled clothing.
6. Recycle (textile recycling)
In a perfect universe, fashion should be circular; an ongoing movement where old clothes are prevented from going to landfill. You can contribute to that idea by donating ruined or unwanted clothes to your local textile recycling program.
These programs offer an alternative option to the landfill for clothing that is beyond wearable conditions. Also, many companies work directly with local stores and offer in-store collection concepts including a reward incentive.
Find out more about opportunities for textile recycling.
Yes, clothing can be composted, but only if they are made 100% from natural materials like cotton, wool, linen or silk.
All you need to do is to remove non-degradable parts like buttons and zippers and cut them into smaller pieces before adding to your compost.
Final Thoughts on Old Clothes and Textile Recycling
So, there you have it, simple methods to prolong the life of your clothes and prevent old clothing and textile waste from polluting our environment.
Learn how to properly take care of your clothes, consider a clothing donation. If you can’t do anything else, look for a textile recycler in your area and properly dispose of your unwanted clothing.
Although all these actions are simple, every contribution helps support the environment.
Take a look at what you can do today.