Make a fashion statement – recycle your old clothes

Twice a year we organise a waste audit of what is disposed of at the county’s household waste recycling centres (HWRCs), writes service improvement officer Jenny Lowes.

The last set of results surprised us, because more than 23 per cent of all the rubbish thrown away in the general rubbish skip was classed as textiles.

All household waste recycling centres have textile banks and can accept the following goods, even if they are ripped or stained:

  • all clothing
  • shoes
  • belts
  • handbags
  • bed linen
  • towels

The textile banks do not accept duvets, pillows or curtains, because they don't have the ability to recycle them, so please pass those items on to an animal rescue or charity shop for curtains.

Any material that is not suitable for reuse is sent for recycling into carpet underlay, mattress filling and car insulation. Becoming more frequent is fibre to fibre recycling, in which old material is turned into new yarn for remanufacture. Find out what happens to textiles.

Textiles are not currently collected in the kerbside recycling collections, but please try to avoid putting them in your household rubbish bin, because every year 1.4 million tonnes of clothing and textiles are thrown away in the UK. Discarding clothes and textiles also affects the environment.

The fashion industry is a major contributor to the ongoing pollution of our planet today. Government research estimates that textile and fashion production accounts for 20 per cent of wastewater and 10 per cent of annual global carbon emissions, which is more than aviation and shipping combined.

Putting clothes and textiles in rubbish bins costs us money, which could otherwise be spent on local services. As it costs the council to dispose of these clothes, if they were passed on for recycling or reuse we could save thousands of pounds in disposal costs.

To find your nearest textile bank visit RecycleNow.

Hold a swishing party

A swishing party is a fun way to update your wardrobe for free. It is easy to organise and can be as big or small as you want, from a small group of friends to a community event.

Swishing works like a giant clothes swap: you bring items you no longer wear and exchange them for something new to you.

Like swap shops, swishing events are a great way for a community to come together and for local groups to raise their profile. You can use it as a fundraising idea by asking for donations or charging an entry fee.

There are various online guides to help you run a swishing party, including this guide from Sustainable(ish) and Get Swishing