Recycled clothes – are they worth the effort?

Recycled clothes – are they worth the effort?

Recycled clothes have become ubiquitous in recent years, and those recycling bins have popped up everywhere. Gone are the days when we throw old clothes in the bin without a second thought, and that’s a good thing.

Whilst many of us play our part by disposing of our clothes in the right way, not many of us are aware of what actually happens to those clothes. The Bureau of International Recycling has some very interesting information on how the process works and the difference that recycled clothes make.

Of all collected textiles, around 50% are reused for wear in developing countries and 50% are recycled. In some countries, well over half of the population wear second hand clothes.

If the total population of the UK (60 million) bought one reclaimed woollen garment each year, it would save an average of 1,686 million litres of water and 480 tonnes of chemical dyestuffs. Even if half of the people did so, it would make quite some difference.

Nearly half of discarded textiles are donated to charities, with over 60% of them being exported.

Whilst some CO2 will be generated in recycling clothing, and this has been used as an argument against it, it’s still a lot less than what is generated by producing virgin materials. The University of Copenhagen looked into this a few years ago, and took a look at the environmental advantages resulting from the collection of used clothing. By collecting 1kg of used clothing, we can reduce:

–   3,6kg of Co2 emissions

–   6000 l of water consumption

–   0,3 kg of the use of fertilizers

–   0,2kg of the use of pesticides

Quite some surprising numbers there, and strong evidence that recycled clothes are worth their weight in environmental protection. If you have been wondering if it is worth the effort to trudge to the bin with your old clothes, it is, so our mantra is (as always), keep calm and carry on recycling.

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