''Waste Not Want Not''


“Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.” 
― Elise Boulding

According to "WRAP" (http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/valuing-our-clothes-the-cost-of-uk-fashion_WRAP.pdf), (I highly recommend reading this in-depth report), 1,130.000 tonnes of clothing was purchased in the UK in 2016, an increase of 200,00 tonnes since 2012, an estimated 300,000 of that sent to landfills. 

These statistics are quite frightening and highlight the major issues we have with mass consumption and textile waste. A recent article in "Ecotextile News" (31st Jan '19) reports "how one local council in West Sussex published their figures on the financial loss caused by unwanted clothing going to landfill, the vast amount of unwanted textiles that was put into the bin by local residents is said to have cost the taxpayer more than £462.000 last year''....Stunning and that is just one small local council report from the whole of the UK !!!

David Attenborough (24th Jan '19 / SBS news) made a plea to ask "people to NOT waste anything for the sake of the planet", but unfortunately, he is in a minority of celebrities campaigning and reaching out to the general public. He may be an Icon to us British but the younger generations today are more likely to be influenced by reality TV stars like The Kardashians or Towie.

In the Guardian (29th January '19)


Sirin Kale writes about this trend and points out how an Instagram post of Kylie Jenner wearing a designer outfit is seen by over 4 million women prompting them to go online and buy a similar outfit from popular e-tailers like BooHoo, Pretty Little things, Misguided, Nasty Gal and fashion Nova.

The Kardashians have this hold over young women who follow their style like mad and they can purchase these knock-off versions 'as cheaply as a large takeaway pizza' Sirin Kale quotes. Of course, they know how influential they are and cash in on this by charging e-tailers fees for each Instagram post. Sirin points out these e-tailers such as BooHoo have had a significant boost in sales (BooHoo sales rose by a third in the UK to £180 million in the last 4 months of 2018).

In the article 'Pamela church Gibson' says "They can Sell anything" and 'Lauren Levin'' says "They definitely have a massive influence over my generation".......

Sirin Kale also quoted a Mintel' report that pointed out 22% of consumers say that Social Media influences the clothing they buy, rising to 64% of THe Generation Z consumers (under 22 years old).

and here is where the problem lies, Fast fashion, Mass consumption, and clothing waste, all promoted on Social Media by Celebrity influencers and to those of an impressionable age. An age where image is everything and the need to fit in with the crowd.

These are the consumers we need to be educating and influencing, this is the generation that has the power to change the bad fashion industry practices.

Online E-tailers are accountable for purely thinking on profits and not on the eco-damage they inherently cause. As I mentioned previously the British Government started in 2018 an investigation into the Fashion Industry impacts and interviewed several well-known brands... This is some kind of progress with higher powers, at last, seeing the seriousness of it all. None of this would have been possible or even happened I dare doubt without the campaigning and persistence of major ethical groups and organisations like Fashion Revolution and Common Objective (for example).

As posted in  'Daily Mail' (30th October '18)

(Thhttps://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6333001 /Boohoo-named-shamed-Parliament-expert-says-5-dress-rubbish-charities-want.htmle)

"Boohoo was named and shamed in Parliament today for producing £5 dresses which one expert warned would be of such low-quality charity shops would snub them. MPs were told that online shops like Boohoo and Asos are aggressively competing to produce cheaper and faster clothes for young women.

But the environmental audit select committee - which is investigating the environmental impact of the 'fast fashion' industry - was told this is fuelling a culture where an eye-watering 400,000 tonnes end up being binned in UK landfill sites."

And there you have it,what more can one say......


''Cut your coat according to your cloth''


Mass consumption and fast fashion’s end result is an astonishing amount of clothing and textile waste which generally ends up in landfills.

The environmental repercussions of landfills are disturbing, to say the least, but there are many solutions to tackling this issue.

New groups are setting up repair workshops in local communities. Like our grandparents during the war, the idea of mindfulness with our belongings is slowly beginning to emerge again. Due to limited access to cloth and the restrictions put on manufacturing, clothing had to be looked after well, altered and repaired, made to last and worn more than one or two times. Utility clothing was introduced and was not only made to last but was very economical with the cloth. The fact that these garments were made to last can be evident when browsing vintage shops today where many can still be found.

There has also been a significant rise of clothes swapping and kilo sales events, a good way to pass on your castoffs and keep the circularity in motion.

Upcycling pop-ups and new age designers creating and selling upcycled clothing have also become a popular alternative. There are even many YouTube tutorials on upcycling techniques if you feel brave enough to try it yourself.

Failing that why not recoup some of the cost you forked out for the items by selling them on sites such as eBay and Schpock and there are also some great new websites where you can hire clothing including designer wear.

The BBC produced an interesting piece on ‘Anna Bergstrom’ who opened and runs a second-hand shopping mall in Sweden- this is not for charity but more like a trendy, upmarket flea market with many different businesses selling second-hand, refurbished, recycled and upcycled, anything from clothing to books, furniture and more. The mall is located next door to the recycling centre where the stall holders can essentially reuse the waste that is brought there by householders, a very different kind of supply chain and so very circular, it’s simply brilliant.

(https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-47001188 / Douglas Shaw 29th Jan 2019)


Daniel Miller 7 years ago explains his book about Consumption

Decluttering for a better life ???


A few weeks ago I heard about the 'Marie Kondo’ phenomenon and decided to watch the series on Netflix to see what all the hype was about. I watched two episodes which were enough for me to get the idea. Marie is a lovely lady, however, I feel she misses the point on throwing out masses of stuff. It is quite frightening when you see the mountains of clothing that the people in the series have accumulated and the ton of junk. Marie does help hoarders to declutter and change their habits and a new way of thinking and that is great but surely the issue here is where do all the rejected items go?

I fear that Marie kondo may have started a trend for all the wrong reasons. One household threw out 150 bags, that is 150 bags of a possible environmental issue, a landfill nightmare. Teaching people to dispose of their belongings responsibly should be a part of Marie’s agenda I feel.

I also came across a couple of articles after watching the series, written about Marie a couple of years ago, which made me wonder how much waste must have been thrown away in that space of time, astonishing.

I have quoted Alexandra Spring'from the Guardian and her piece on Kondo, she and I think are of the same mind….

''That’s the thing though – what happens next? Where do all those bags go? The Konmari method emphasises getting rid of stuff, but it doesn’t all just vanish. We drop off the garbage bags, then forget about them as we return to our newly organised homes. Out of sight, out of mind.'' 

''Most of those op shop bags will end up in landfill, alongside the bags of outright garbage. And it costs charities millions to send it to the dump. These days landfills around the world are overflowing with stuff that didn’t spark joy.'''

''The idea of “don’t like it, just bin it” encourages the culture of disposability. As Eiko Maruko Sinewer, author of Waste, Consuming Post-war Japan, told me once, the Konmari method is a short-term strategy. “If you go shopping and you pick up a shirt, and that shirt brings you joy, then you buy it. Then, two weeks later, it no longer brings you joy, you can throw it away and there’s no attention to [the fact that] maybe you should have thought about the end life of that shirt when you bought it.”''

(https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jan/10/marie-kondo-you-know-what-would-spark-joy-buying-less-crap) (10th Jan 2015)

We can live in hope that the whole decluttering process ended up with most being donated to charity and disposed of responsibly.








Charitable misgivings


Charities are seen commonly as the ethical way to throw away unwanted clothing but it isn’t always the best solution. Having had the chance to experience working behind the scenes at a notable UK charity, it was interesting to learn how donations are sorted and processed. A system where worn, damaged and unstylish clothing is ragged, where high street and premium are separated for pricing levels and how seasonal trends are taken into consideration to further entice the consumer into seeing the charity shop as a contender for the high street, in fact a few are now modelling their charitable business on that style, to be more like a retail store with the atmosphere and environment of a clothing shop.

I have always loved browsing and buying in Charity shops from clothing to household and books and I have many much-loved items that I wear over and over. It gives me great pride to feel I have not only bought a piece which is essentially unique, saved clothing from landfills but given money to a good cause.

But what happens to the clothing that is rejected and ragged?

Charities use textile recycling companies who pay them for their rags, companies like RTS who recycle the clothing they get to developing countries. They come across as an environmentally and socially responsible company who run their vehicles on biodiesel and use recycled materials for their stationary, they also established the Sankreacha Foundation.

‘’The Sankreacha Foundation was set up with the aim of reaching out and giving back to our community and is the official charitable platform for RTS Textile Recyclers. Since RTS Textile Recyclers was established almost 25 years ago, the Sankreacha family have led with the belief of giving back to those in need.’’


ARB is another company used who are less transparent but deliver over 1,560 tonnes of textiles to Ghana every year.

 Bristol Textile Recyclers (BTR) Ltd ''is a family run business in the UK which has been around since 1972. Every day they receive 20 tonnes of textile/clothing diverted from landfills and each month they load 20 – 40 containers to ship them off for reuse in Eastern Europe, central Africa, and South Asia, 12.5% remains in the UK for reuse and recycling, this creates more trade and commerce. BTR aids charities by collecting and paying for their unsold donated clothing and textiles. They also fundraise for other organisations with events such as upcycling workshops, clothing drives, and recycling banks. They send about 30 vehicles out around the country every day collecting textiles and return to the warehouse where they are all put onto the conveyor for sorting. Here it is also weighed (people dropping off can get cash for weight on their textiles) and graded, grading ensures there is Zero waste.''


Other organisations like WRAP and TRAID ….

‘’WRAP works with governments, businesses, and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency.

Our mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable, resource-efficient economy by:

  • re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products, 
  • re-thinking how we use and consume products, and 
  • re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling ‘


WRAP reports are a must read,a recent report published analyses potential barriers and the economic practicalities for fibre to fibre recycling.

‘’TRAID is a charity working to stop clothes from being thrown away. We turn clothes waste into funds and resources to reduce the environmental and social impacts of our clothes. It is a circular and sustainable approach to the problems of clothes waste tackling disposal, production and consumption by:-

  • Increasing clothes reuse across the UK reducing waste, carbon emissions and consumption
  • Funding international development projects to improve conditions and working practices in the textile industry
  • Educating people of all ages about the impacts of textiles on the environment and people’s lives, and how we can make more sustainable choices’’


TRAID have shops in London but also have clothing banks in many locations across the country.

''Donating Trends in the UK 2018'' is a report produced by the ''Third Sector.co.uk'' to look at and research data comparisons over the years, analysing whether habits have changed by looking at how people donate, why, and preferred methods, peoples perceptions of charities and trends of varying regions. 

However as said at the beginning the charitable solution isn’t always the best, there has been a real problem growing with our rejected clothing items going to the poorer countries like Africa, They don’t want it anymore….. Western society disposes of so much that the countries who receive our cast offs are drowning in it

The Business of Fashion reported on the issues of exporting our secondhand clothing to third world countries, an interesting read which also mentions India’s role in this market.

‘’the mass influx of cheap hand-me-downs from Western countries has had a negative impact on local apparel industries and production in low-income countries.

…To this point, the governments of the East African Community (EAC) — the regional organisation that comprises of Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda — plans to outlaw all secondhand clothing imports by 2019, in a bid to boost domestic manufacturing.....

…..says Tewari. “Once worn and torn by the poor, millions of clothes go into third world landfills, far from the affluent countries. Where is the accountability of first world countries dumping used goods on third world grounds?”








Recycling processes

Slowing it down

How technology is helping the fashion industry to advance (www.wtvox.com / 11th December 2018/ Claudia Ricci)

I apologise for a delay in writing, it is a terrible nuisance when your computer decides to die on you. Where would we be without all this technology today, there are pros and cons, especially regarding the fashion industry and in particular the pros and cons of ethics and sustainability. How we use our technology is vital and also concerning: to use technology for good such as highlighting issues and bad practices of the fashion industry and promoting of ethical companies, educating and networking for a common ground with one goal in mind, to save our planet, or: to use our technology for greed, marketing unethical brands, promoting mass consumerism, encouraging clothing waste and fast fashion. There also comes into play how we use our technology to advance in manufacturing: for good by innovation and invention of new sustainable fibres, innovative technology for recycling and reducing plastic waste, for cleaning up plastic waste in the oceans, for new eco friendly energy systems, or: for streamlining production enabling quicker ways to get goods from factory to shop floor, for all the carbon emissions mass technology produces, production of more plastic ..... In slowing fashion down we need to address technology pros and cons and consider how best to use it to our advantage and for the good of sustainability and ethics....

“It may not be possible to slow down fast fashion – so can the industry ever be sustainable?”

“ Brands and business could use new technology to make recyclable clothes instead of relying on ethical consumerism ( Getty )”

“ Model behaviour: Recyclable clothing is being encouraged as the way forward AFP Can we find sustainable solutions that actually move ever closer to a disposable fashion industry? The desire for new clothes is something that may be impossible to change. So instead of trying to appeal to the consumer’s supposed ethical streak, perhaps brands should aim instead to use new technology and business models to design products that can be recycled or re-engineered into new styles with minimal use of virgin materials, water, energy and chemicals. In this model, we would not aim to change thousands of years of evolution in the space of a generation but use innovation and creativity to make industry bend to our inherent needs. It is a major technical and commercial challenge but shifting to such a consumer-driven model may open up new opportunities for business, as well as becoming more sustainable.”

(This article was originally published on www.conversation.com. Mark Sumner is a Lecturer in Sustainability, Fashion and Retail at the University of Leeds)(www.independant.co.uk October 1st 2017)

“Speeding down: The slow living revolution “

(Maxine Bedat and Saraya Darabi from Zady – December 6th 2017)(www.huffpost.com)

“ As we consider Fashion Revolution day and remember the lives that were lost due to fast fashion production, we reflect on how even though technology enabled a faster world, we are surrounded with a cloud of fear that it is all too much. “