When you throw away that old top that’s no longer ‘in’ or those jeans that you’ve simply stopped liking, you often just throw them out, never giving them a second thought. However, it’s these clothes that contribute to the 235 million items that ended up on nationwide landfill sites last spring.
Research by the Waste and Resources Action Programme found that the average piece of clothing in the UK lasts 3.3 years before being discarded whilst other research found this time period to be as short as 2.2 years. Also, this lifespan is likely to reduce significantly for younger people where the trends change pretty much weekly. We all remember the importance of having Abercrombie and Fitch hoodies and Paul’s Boutique gilets and it seeming like the end of the world if you didn’t have one. The fashion would vanish a few months later and your recent passion for this item of clothing would have shifted onto a new trend.
In the UK, we bought 1.3 million tonnes of clothing last year. That is the equivalent of a fully grown walrus. We bought a walrus’ worth of clothes in one year and still the consumers’ urge to buy continues to increase. We are all becoming Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic and it’s ridiculous. We’ll all be avoiding debt collectors and pretending to be fluent in Finnish in no time at this rate. However, there are things that we can do to reduce the impact that throwing away old clothes has on the environment.
Firstly, make use of charity shops by both donating and shopping with them. Just because you no longer like that pair of jeans does not mean that no one else would like them. By contributing to charity shops you not only get rid of the clothing you no longer wear without affecting our environment, but you are also giving the items a second life and supporting the charities that these clothing shops help. Cancer Research UK has claimed that the average bag value that is donated to their charity shops is worth £25 so think of the potential effects your donation could have on groundbreaking research.
The increasing concern surrounding the number of items going to landfill has been fully addressed by Stella McCartney. She chose to photo shoot her latest clothing collection on a Scottish landfill site where the models would lay across household waste to show the sheer mass of refuse that is building all around us.
An extremely easy and simple way to give a t-shirt you don’t wear anymore another life is to simply cut off the sleeves and turn it into a cushion cover. You don’t need to be an amazing sewer or a DIY genius because the option to glue gun it is always there and who doesn’t want an excuse to justify purchasing a hot glue gun? Also, ripped tops and jeans have been prominent in everyday fashion for the past few months but why spend £20+ on something that you can easily make at home? If you already own some jeans that you’re thinking about replacing, think again! Simply pick the spot you want to rip and slide something inside the trouser leg to protect the other side. Sandpaper the area until the fibres have loosened and if you want a more intense rip, use a knife carefully and then carry on until you’re happy with it.
It couldn’t be easier to simply give your clothes a new life through DIY or to give them a better home than your local landfill whilst supporting a charity.