Inventive ways to cut clothing waste

Inventive ways to cut clothing waste


Thu 20 May

In the UK we throw away 1 million tonnes of clothes every year! Here are some pointers to help you cut down on clothes waste.
Host a clothes swap with friends

As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure  just because you're feeling tired of the clothes in your wardrobe doesn't mean someone else wouldn't love them, so why not meet up with friends for a clothes swap?

You could set up a stall in your garden or have the clothes on your dining room table with a few glasses of wine at hand. The rules could be that for every old item you bring, you can take one new piece of clothing home with you. Or, why not charge people a few pounds per kilo of clothing, turning your event into a great fundraiser for charity!

Take on a challenge

If you're a bit of a shopaholic, setting yourself a goal for cutting down the habit might help. Why not challenge yourself to only buy one new piece of clothing every month, or even set yourself a total ban like Deborah Meaden and refrain from buying clothes for one whole year!


Alter and upcycle

If something isn't to your taste anymore, rather than throwing it away, consider whether you could upcycle it and turn it into your new favourite item. A dress could be transformed into a cute crop top, or a pair of jeans in the wrong size could be turned into a pair of baggy, 90s-style shorts.

You can discover plenty of DIY no-sew clothing alterations on YouTube!



Chop up and sew

If you fancy being a bit more adventurous, get out the scissors and sewing needles and create brand new clothes out of strips of old fabric!

Contestants on The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC One have done some amazing upcycling challenges; in one episode, the sewers made gorgeous new dresses out of old charity shop jeans! We think this is a fantastic way to increase the lifecycle of our clothes and reduce waste – watching the show might give you some inspiration!



Make do and mend

Grab yourself a cheap sewing kit and use YouTube tutorials to learn the basic invisible stitches needed to repair holes and tears in clothes. You can even grab some cheap cotton fabric squares to practice on, so when it comes to mending the real thing you'll be a dab hand!

Here's just one example of a really useful sewing video covering 10 easy stitches:



Give clothes a new life

If you've tried all these tips to transform your clothes and nothing has worked, there might be other ways to use the fabric before throwing it away. Soft t-shirts can be used as cloths for cleaning, and fabric scraps can be plaited into dog togs, bird feeders and bath mats!

Donate and buy second hand

Donating your clothes helps the community while also clearing up space in your wardrobe. You can use an app like Thriftify, which works like an online charity shop, but of course popping into a shop on your high street is the best way to find some real bargains while supporting a great cause.


To find out more about our charity shop at No 31 Otley Road, click here, or to find out about other ways to recycle household waste and other used items with us, click here.

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