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  • Ailsa Reynolds

Making clothing less of a problem

Our clothes are a problem – not only does the manufacture of new clothing use resources – water, energy, transportation, energy to heat shops; the type of clothing we buy and what we do with them when we’ve got them is also an issue .

What can we do to help?

This is what I've learned so far so I thought I'd share information about possible options.

Wash our Clothes Less

During the washing process synthetic clothes release microplastics into the oceans, which adversely affect aquatic eco systems and end up in the bodies of sea creatures, mammals and eventually ourselves.

The sniff test! - if it doesn’t smell chances are it`s good to wear again.

The more frequently clothes are washed the faster they deteriorate. This applies in particular to mass produced synthetic items. If you can hang clothes to air and/or dry, less energy is used in the laundry process.

Don’t Throw Wearable Clothes Away

Clothing waste (about 1 million tonnes from the UK per annum) contributes significantly to greenhouses gases once it reaches landfill . They may take hundreds of years to decompose, and in the process release greenhouse gases.

Where can we dispose of clothes ?

It's possible to find a new home for many items of clothing-anything from bras to wedding dresses.

Wedding dresses- donate - ideas here -

(This includes donating wedding items for couples where one partner is terminally ill.)

Wedding and other clothing – buying and selling

Try Vinted, Depop and eBay for most usable clothes (and often other items). These websites may have sites in a number of countries.

General - Swap party with friends. Charity shops, car boot sales, occasionally jumble sales . School uniforms could go to your child's school or parents` association.

Some craft groups, theatre groups, art projects, schools or children's groups might take items or you may have a creative friend who could use your unwanted textiles – for example wool items can be felted.

Exchange clothing schemes for vouchers

Many charities and retailers are members of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan. They include Age UK, Arcadia Group, Boohoo, ASOS , British Red Cross , M and S, Next, Primark, Tesco, Sainsburys, Whistles, Urban Outfitters; some of whom are offering clothing donation banks in-store. There may be voucher schemes as a reward.

Rethinking Fast Fashion – unfortunately this perpetuates the ongoing cycle of ever changing trends and over-consumption .

Repair, alter

Is your item of clothing reparable or suitable for repurposing/upgrading? If you can't make repairs yourself some towns have repair cafes who will do this for you or help you to repair the item yourself.

Buy replacement/new clothes wisely

If you need to buy new clothing there are many options to consider – new good quality clothing that will last longer, made from more sustainable fabrics, new clothing made from recycled materials and of course second hand/pre-loved items . There are many brands around now that are aiming to be open about their impact, not only on the environment, but their workers too.

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1 Comment

May 02, 2023

This is great thanks! The link at the beginning is very informative and all the recommendations :)

I am an advocate of preloved clothes - buying and selling. For the last couple of years I have been using this site a lot, it's for anglophiles in France - LIPS = Ladies Items Preloved Sales.

Otherwise I give to charity shops - there are two in Prayssac.

Failing that, I put them in the white bins for recycling.

Regarding washing clothes, if we put them into mesh bags inside the washing machine, this will help prevent the micro-plastics getting into the environment.

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