Last Updated on January 19, 2023
Recycling your old clothes is the best way to reduce your carbon footprint and do your part for the planet.
The UK alone discards over 336,000 tonnes of unwanted clothes each year and 11 million items of clothing go to landfill every week.
Having mountains of amazing clothes sounds great, but not so much when it becomes a mountain of waste in landfill. If you want to help reduce this waste, many places will happily take your old clothes from you and give them a second life.
When you recycle your old clothes, not only will you help reduce the amount of trash going into landfill, but the funds raised from selling your donated items can be used for other worthwhile causes, like animal rescue or helping homeless people in your community.
If your old clothes aren’t in the best condition to be passed onto someone else, they’re still usable. In London and other towns and cities across the UK, the recycled materials are separated into reuse, rags and fibre. Some items are sent to charity shops, while the other textiles are shredded to be made into new fabrics.
So it’s a no brainer: if you have a pile of old clothes collecting dust in your closet, recycle them. It’s easy to declutter your wardrobe, and it feels great knowing you’ve done your bit to help the environment rather than throwing them in the bin.
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Where can you recycle your old clothes in the UK?
There are several places where you can bring your old clothes and other textiles to get sorted and turned into new products, including thrift stores, non-profits and donation centres.
You can also drop off your old clothes at different recycling points around the UK. There are clothing and textile banks in supermarkets and local car parks. You can check out Recycle Now to find the nearest recycling facility in your area.
Scroll down to check out the high-street stores that take more responsibility for the waste they’ve contributed to and how you can donate your unwanted clothes.
Donate old clothes to & Other Stories
You can donate your pre-loved and unwanted clothes to & Other Stories. They will even reward you for your generosity by giving you a 10% off voucher for one in-store purchase.
You can donate garments from any brand and bring them to their stores to give them a second life. The old dresses and skirts you loved might become geofleece, stuffed toys, shoe insoles or insulation materials.
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They have partnered with I: CO, a global service provider for reusing and recycling used textiles. They sort the clothes into three categories: re-wear, reuse, and recycle.
By donating your clothes to & Other Stories, you become a part of circular fashion, ensuring that these unwanted items be turned into special products or converted to recycled fibres.
You clean learn more about their recycling program here.
Shwopping with M&S
Marks & Spencer partnered with Oxfam in 2008 to create their Shwopping initiative, leading to over 20 million items of clothing being donated over the past few years.
The premise of their initiative is simple. You leave unwanted clothing in any ‘Shwop Drop’ box in stores. Your clothes will then be given to Oxfam to be reused or recycled.
The pre-loved clothes you’re donating don’t have to be from M&S; they accept garments from any retailer. You can even donate your shoes!
John Lewis’ FashionCycle
John Lewis‘ FashionCycle initiative allows you to return a whole range of clothing, like jumpers, dresses, and shirts, which will be resold or recycled. Like & Other Stories, John Lewis will reward you for your generosity by giving you £5 off your next fashion or home purchase on the same day.
To donate your pre-loved clothes, you just need to sign-up to become a My John Lewis member and bring your items to any of their locations.
As soon as you get to any of their stores, you can pick out the item you want to buy with your discount and show your My John Lewis’ card at the counter. Then place your pre-loved clothes into one of their FashionCycle bins.
They have even partnered with Bank and Vogue, a major trader in used textiles and the parent company of vintage store Beyond Retro, to resell and repurpose your unwanted clothes.
Recycle with Arket
Drop off unwanted items in any condition and from any brand as part of the Recycle with Arket scheme, and you’ll receive a 10% voucher for three months. You can drop off old clothes in any Arket location.
The brand also partnered with I: CO to sort all donations for re-wear, reuse, or recycling. Any profit made from items brought in for recycling or reuse will be donated to the H&M Foundation and other environmental projects.