It is estimated 336,000 tonnes of used clothing are thrown in the bin in the UK every year. Charity shops are inundated with unwanted fashion items, as they become treated like recycling bins rather than shops where goods are sold. There is a huge environmental and social cost in the production process. Workers are exploited and polluting chemicals continue to be used, driven by the demand for fast fashion.
Fashion sustainability requires clothes to be made in an ethical way, where materials are valued and clothes are made to last. At the end of their life, clothes should be responsibly recycled into new garments.
Pre-loved or second-hand clothes are becoming more accessible through online resale sites. These allow people to trade good-quality used clothes and to swap items through an app on their mobile phone. Locally you can find unique pre-loved fashion items in small independents like Brockhurst Boutique in Chesham for a fraction of their original cost. Visit local charity shops where bargains are even greater.
Many items can be repaired locally at repair shops, such as Bluebell Dry Cleaners , or the Artful Menders in Chesham, to extend the life of garments. Look out for fun ‘swishing’ events locally where people can swap items of clothing at no cost.
High street stores like M&S, Zara and H&M also offer to take in used clothing and some offer a voucher in return for every bag donated.
1. Don’t buy fast fashion; buy to last.
2. Wear what you’ve already got and repair if necessary.
4. Buy pre-loved clothing, swap items or shop for vintage.
5. Launder clothing with care and only when really necessary.
6. Support Made in the UK brands like Community Clothing.