Wednesday 12 February 2014

Recycling: Getting To Be A Habit?

We're all used to the idea of recycling our bottles, cans and cardboard. It's just something we do, part of the weekly routine. Recycling clothing, though, is a habit that we're finding a little harder to catch. Part of the reason for that, I think, is opportunity. Our local council will collect a lot of our recyclables, and many workplaces have stations for paper, card and glass. To recycle clothing, though, means you have to take a trip to a bin in a supermarket car-park or shlep out to Oxfam.
A new initiative launched this week by an alliance of fashion designers and high street shops might not address that problem directly, but it aims to help us make the right choice when it comes to the neglected clothes in our wardrobe. Names like Stella McCartney are teaming up with retail giants like M&S (who have form in this area, of course: whatever happened to shwopping?) to create the Love Your Clothes initiative. It aims to help us recycle 15% of our clothing by 2020. Apart from the environmental advantage of keeping millions of tons of clothing out of landfill, the alliance are pushing a more pertinently financial up-side to the scheme. In short, old clothes are worth money. Chief executive of Wrap, Liz Goodwin, the organisation behind the initiative, explains:
"Clothes cost money. Not getting the most out of them by mixing and matching garments, repairing favoured items, selling them on, or giving to charity shops means we're not getting the most out of that hard earned money, and wasting scarce resources."
The figures are striking. We throw away clothes worth £140 million a year, and it's estimated that the unloved items in our wardrobes that haven't been worn in over a year are worth £30 billion. That's a chunk of change.
Now, we've seen efforts like this before from different outlets and retailers. But this is the first time I think we've seen a concerted bipartisan effort that covers donation, recycling, upcycling and an educational spin to address the problem. If it works, then we could finally see the change in attitude that many of us would like to see from fast fashion: the illusion that clothes are cheap and disposable. Once we realise their true worth, and understand that you don't just have to bin last year's dress because it's off-trend, then we're going to start to make a real difference. Maybe this time, the lesson will stick.
For more, have a look at the Love Your Clothes website.

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