Space in landfill sites is running out. Landfill is also costly and throwing wearable clothing away is wasteful, but not many people realise that it can also be harmful. This is because over time your old clothing made of natural materials like cotton, wool and leather will biodegrade in the airless conditions of the landfill site to form methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
Recycling clothes is just as important as recycling any other material.
- An estimated 1.14 million tonnes of clothes are supplied onto the UK market each year*
- 31% of used clothing (350,000 tonnes) goes to landfill in the UK every year*
- Of the rest, 12% is re-used in the UK, 34% is re-used overseas, 14% is recycled and 7% is incinerated*
- In the UK, people spend £44 billion a year on buying clothes – or around £1,700 per household*
- It takes 800 litres of water to make just one t-shirt, so recycling and reusing clothes is an excellent solution for the environment
- Production of a tonne of clothes takes 10 times more energy than that of steel or glass**
- 24% of the world’s pesticides are used in cotton production
- Over 5% of the UK’s total annual carbon and water footprints result from clothing consumption*
- The annual footprints of a household’s new and existing clothing are equivalent to the weight of over 100 pairs of jeans, the water needed to fill 1,000 bathtubs, and the carbon emissions from driving an average modern car for 6,000 miles*
- Extending the average life of clothes by just three months of active use per item would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints*
- For every tonne of textiles reused rather than put into landfill, harmful carbon dioxide emmissions are reduced by 3.6 tonnes***
Still not convinced about recycling your clothes? Profit that Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd receives from your donations is gift-aided to The Salvation Army to support its social welfare projects throughout the UK.
For a downloadable fact sheet containing these facts and figures, click here.
*WRAP’s Valuing Our Clothes report, July 2012: www.wrap.org.uk/content/valuing-our-clothes
** Defra’s report reference WRT152 September 2006 and Defra's Maximising Reuse and Recycling of UK Clothing and Textiles’ study 2009
*** study from the University of Copenhagen, cited on Bureau of International Recycling's website