The nation’s habits are changing! WRAP’s new report, Valuing our Clothes: The Cost of UK Fashion shows that as a country we are now putting less clothing and textiles into residual waste, and finding ways to re-use and recycle textiles instead. The report revealed that since 2012, 50,000 tonnes fewer items of clothing have been disposed of in household bins.
Fantastic news! And here’s why it’s such a big deal:
The true cost of cheap clothes is felt by the planet
When it comes to clothes, our compulsion to buy cheap, break and then replace is actually a very costly process. Manufacturing clothes uses vast amounts of resources (it takes 1,800 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans!), not to mention the carbon emissions associated with the transport of these garments. WRAP estimates that extending the lifetime of 50% of UK clothing by nine months would save 8% carbon, 10% water and 4% waste, on a per-tonne basis. And from their report, it looks like consumers are starting to get the message.
Landfill out of fashion – our values are changing
WRAP’s research is significant because it indicates a rising trend towards adopting more sustainable behaviours. Not only are we sending less textiles to landfill, we are also taking actions to extend the life of our clothes, so we replace them less often. WRAP reports that in the UK, more people now wash their clothes at 30 degrees instead of 40 and use tumble dryers less frequently. These regular changes lead to approximately 700,000 tonnes less CO2 emissions in the UK each year.
The Giants are awakening
Increasingly, major clothing designers, brands, manufacturers, retailers and fashion houses are signing up to WRAP’s initiative: Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), which commits these companies to reporting on carbon, water and waste footprints of their clothing every year. Primark is the latest retailer to sign up to the SCAP initiative alongside Asda, Asos, Arcadia, Ted Baker, Next and JoJo Maman Bébé. Still more work to do Despite the positive feedback from WRAP’s report, the overall environmental footprint of UK clothing has risen by 2 million tonnes since 2012 and now stands at 26 million tonnes of CO2e, putting clothing fourth after housing, transport and food in terms of its impact on the environment. At Local Green Points we run recycling schemes to raise awareness about the importance of sending less waste to landfill, with modules focused on recycling and upcycling textiles. By rewarding sustainable behaviour changes, we successfully motivate and engage residents to reduce, re-use and recycle what they might have wasted.
Find out more about our recycling rewards schemes here