Making new clothes takes a lot of resources and energy. It is estimated that the impact of new clothes bought each year by one household is the same as carbon emissions from driving an average car 6,000 miles.
The average household owns about £4,000 worth of clothes and spends £1,700 per year on new clothing. What's more, around 30% of clothing in the UK has not been worn for a year.
Keeping a smaller number of clothes in use for longer can help reduce the 350,000 tonnes of clothing sent to landfill each year.
There are a number of ways to reduce clothing waste and make garments go the extra mile.
Passing on clothes that you no longer wear helps to reduce the amount of new clothing in circulation.
Charity shops accept good-quality second-hand clothing to sell, whether directly at the shop or through clothing collection banks. Find your closest charity shop or clothing bank where you are in north London with the Charity Retail Association’s search tool.
Another option is to swap with other people, a practice known as Swishing, to freshen up your look. One way of doing this is organising a clothes swapping party with friends to pass on some of your unloved items and pick up some new ones for free. Or find a large organised event near you on the Swishing website if you don’t fancy hosting your own.
Taking care of clothes helps them stay in good condition and last longer. Getting a stain on a valued item of clothing can be disappointing, but it doesn’t have to spell the end, with plenty of simple remedies available for lots of common stains, such as grass, red wine, perspiration marks and mud.
Repairing and altering clothes
Repairing or altering clothes can bring them back to life, make them attractive to wear again and save money.
Our guides show how to adjust a seam, repair an edge, sew on a button or repair a hole. If you don’t feel confident to alter a garment, or if it looks complicated, there are lots of local professional alteration services available.
You can also go to a NLWA Repair Café where you can learn how to alter your clothes with a repair specialist. Check out where to find your nearest Repair Café.
When clothes and other textiles cannot be repaired, they can be reused or recycled. It’s always best to try to repurpose these in the first instance, such as using them as dust cloths.
Where reuse is just not an option, textiles can be taken to your nearest reuse and recycling centre or textile bank where they can be taken for reuse and recycling. Visit the Recycle Now website to find the nearest bank.
All of this doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself every now and again, but there are more sustainable options around, and they might save you money too. It’s all about where you look. Try writing a list before you go shopping to avoid coming home with bundles of unneeded clothing. Try browsing your local charity shop or vintage clothes shops for some bargains, or even sites like Ebay, Gumtree or Freecycle for good value or freebies.
For that extra special occasion, more and more people are renting outfits, allowing them to wear expensive clothes for less than half the cost. You can find local hiring companies on the Love Your Clothes website.