Friday, 22 March 2019

Counting the cost of clothing

There is a small shop in Chichester that does clothes alterations, hems taken up, waistbands expanded or taken in, general repairs done, I have to admit using their services sometimes as my sewing skills are not such that I would qualify for BBC’s Sewing Bee.

Now some may say why bother with repairs, just throw the garment away or recycle it. Well unfortunately too many people do this. Did you know every year an estimate 300,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK?

Surprisingly in the average UK household nearly a third of clothes haven’t been worn in the last year. Unfortunately this is part of our consumer focused, throwaway society which has an enormous environmental cost.

Over five per cent of the UK’s total annual carbon and water footprints results from clothing consumption. So the throwaway clothes culture could be literally costing the earth.

Last year in West Sussex, nearly 11,000 tonnes of unwanted clothes, towels, blankets or sheets were thrown into the general rubbish. Not only is this a huge waste which has a significant impact on the environment, but it also cost the County Council a staggering £1.7 million to dispose of them.

And when you consider that most of these textiles could have been repaired, reused or recycled, it really does make you think.

Now it is that time of year when the wardrobe gets a bit of a spring clean, so what could you do differently?

Rather than bin your unwanted clothes, here are some options, charity shops are great to drop off some clothes and to find clothes to refresh your wardrobe, then there is swishing events – they are popular, or maybe a tidy up and a few alterations (nip and tuck as a friend mentioned) can equally refresh the wardrobe and give that favourite item of clothing last for another couple of years. You may make some financial savings, but the environmental savings are so much more and so much needed.

We all know that climate change is looming large and will have some serious impacts on us all, what’s needed is for all of us to make some simple small changes to help our unique planet. And thinking twice before throwing away clothing is something we can surely all manage to do.

If you want to find out more about how to reduce the impact of clothing on the environment please take a look at the Tackling Textiles campaign from the West Sussex Waste Partnership.

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