Recycling your old clothes is a fantastic way to give them a new lease of life, whilst also making sure less fabric ends up in the bin. In recent years we’ve become more conscious about how the fast fashion industry is having a harmful impact on our planet. By learning how to recycle old clothes and textiles, we can combat this and make our wardrobes more sustainable.
We should all aim to make our clothes last as long as possible, so the most sustainable thing you can do is learn how to repair and mend your clothes to extend their life. By simply learning how to stitch, sew and add new buttons, you can give your old clothes a second chance.
There’s a huge market out there for selling secondhand and vintage clothing. If you’re having a wardrobe declutter, you could put clothes that are gently worn into a pile for selling. You can sell clothing online through eBay, Facebook Marketplace and apps like Vinted. You could also find a local car boot sale, or set up a garage sale to get those old clothes recycled.
If you fancy yourself a dab hand at repairing your old clothes, why not take it to the next level and upcycle your unwanted garments? Get creative with it and turn an oversized shirt into a dress, cut some jeans into shorts or stitch yourself a new scrunchie. The best thing about upcycling old clothing is that you can recycle fabric, no matter how small or unwanted it is.
You can recycle your old clothes by donating them to charity. It’s a great way to support the causes that are close to your heart, and to help those in need. In the UK, charities will often deliver plastic bags for you to put in your clothes ready for collection from your door. You can also take your old clothes to the charity shop yourself, or find your local charity textile bank to deposit them.
5. Recycle on the high street
Many high street retailers offer something called a ‘bring-back’ scheme. Big retailers such as H&M, M&S and Zara have collection bins in their stores where you can take back old clothes. These are then usually redistributed throughout the business or sent to charities. A few of these retailers offer you an incentive, such as a £5 voucher, to bring these unwanted clothes back.
Should unwearable clothes go in the bin?
Old clothes should always be recycled rather than thrown in the bin. Clothes are made up of a complex combination of non-renewable resources, including fibres, accessories and small fixtures such as zippers. This blend of materials is difficult to separate and recycle properly, leading to textile waste being one of the leading issues in reducing climate change.
Why is it important to recycle old clothes?
According to Clothes Aid, 350,000 tonnes of still wearable clothing goes to landfill every year. That equates to 30% of our unwanted clothing going to the tip, where it can’t biodegrade or be reused for a worthy cause. It’s incredibly important we recycle, upcycle or properly shred our old clothes and textiles to prevent this kind of waste from continuing.
As a business owner, it’s important to recycle old clothes to help the environment, but also to protect your reputation. End-of-line, out-of-date clothing that’s improperly disposed of can lead to criminals gaining false entry into your site or damaging the brand's reputation by falsely impersonating an employee. By properly recycling clothes, businesses can control this problem and ultimately protect their brand name.