It’s pretty shocking to think that the ‘fast fashion’ industry is widely believed to be the second highest carbon-creating industry in the world, writes service improvement officer Jenny Lowes.

Fast fashion promises fast production, quick delivery, low prices and high turnover. Garments are generally only worn a few times, and once the fashion is over they are quickly discarded in favour of the next trend. Their poor quality can make them quite worthless to charity shops.

So, if you want to reduce your carbon footprint then cutting down on the clothes and textiles you buy and making the most out of what you have is the way forward.

The emissions from textile production outweigh the total carbon footprint of international flights and shipping combined. Producing the clothes we wear creates 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2e each year, accounting for over 10 per cent of all global carbon emissions.

The highest contributor to the carbon footprint of clothing is the production and processing of fibre, whether natural or synthetic. Producing a single white cotton shirt creates the equivalent emissions as driving from Harrogate to Pickering. This can be reduced by making the most of the clothes we already have, by buying second-hand items online or charity shops or swapping/passing on to family and friends.

If you absolutely must buy brand new, then choose good-quality garments made from sustainably and ethically sourced fibres.

But clothing and textiles are still ending up in the rubbish bin even though there are lots of alternatives for that outgrown/worn out T-shirt and other items.

Look after your clothes and, with a bit of washing know how, they will last for years.

In the end, if you have some clothing or textiles (and that includes bed linen, curtains, material and sheets) that you want to get rid of – here are some options that don’t involve the rubbish bin:

  • Swap clothes and accessories with friends and family informally or hold a swishing party, “swishing” in this case meaning to rustle clothes from friends
  • Clothes that are in a saleable condition can be donated to a charity shop. See our list Reuse directory  Pass It On Reuse Leaflet (pdf / 610 KB)
  • Textile banks are located on all household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) and at some supermarket car parks
  • Raise school funds by recycling unwanted clothing through a number of organisations in North Yorkshire that will pay your school PTAs, Scout groups and other clubs to recycle clothing. Contact the below direct to find their current price (most range from 20p to 40p per kilogram).

All the organisation needs to do is ask the school/community to bring in bags of unwanted clothing for a particular day. The organisation will pick up the bags and weigh them and you will receive payment. Men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, paired shoes, handbags, belts and accessories are all wanted.

Bedding such as duvets and pillows cannot be accepted at reuse organisations. However, most animal rescue centres do accept these items – but please check locally with your nearest rescue centre as the demand for pet bedding varies throughout the year.

Other textiles, such as bed linen, towels, handbags, cloths, rugs and mats can also be taken to a charity shop if they are in a saleable condition.

Clothing and textiles that are ripped or damaged and are not suitable for reuse can still be placed in the textile banks found at all HWRCs. They will be recycled into new products such as industrial cloths, mattress filling or insulation.