As awareness of the environmental impact of fast fashion increases, we’re all learning that the most sustainable way to dress is in the clothes we already have in our wardrobes. That being said, we all gravitate towards doing a declutter and clear-out occasionally, and it’s important to be mindful of what you do with the clothes you no longer want or need. At the moment, very few clothes get a second life when compared with the volume of new clothes produced, and we all have a part to play in changing that.
If your clothes are in good condition, donating them to charity or selling them on is the best option. However, many high street stores also now offer a program where you drop your unwanted clothing off for it either be donated to a charity that way, or recycled into new garments if it is too worn to be re-used. As an incentive, you will sometimes receive a voucher in return to spend in store in exchange.
If you’re looking for clothing recycling schemes in London, here are a few to consider:
H&M has offered garment recycling services since 2013, and all its stores collect clothing for recycling – just hand over the bag at the cash desk. You can donate any clothing or textiles, not just your old outfits from H&M, and it doesn’t matter what condition they’re in. Good quality clothing will be donated to charity, and worn textiles are recycled into new products and materials for the manufacturing industry. For every bag of textiles you donate, you’ll be given a £5 voucher to spend in store.
Marks and Spencer
M&S has partnered with Oxfam to encourage more people to recycle their used clothing. You can either drop off your used M&S clothing at the bins in store, or take it to your nearest branch of Oxfam. Every time you donate your unwanted M&S clothing or soft furnishings to Oxfam, you’ll receive a £5 voucher (with £35 minimum spend) for Marks & Spencer.
& Other Stories
& Other Stories invites their customers to recycle their unwanted clothes, textiles, and beauty product packaging in store. As a thank you, you’ll get a 10% “recycling treat” voucher, which is valid for three months. Beauty packaging is sorted in store and recycled. Textiles are sorted and recycled according to their condition – items in good condition are donated as second-hand clothing or upcycled for resale; items that can no longer be re-worn are repurposed as cleaning cloths; and very worn textiles are recycled into fibres and material for use in industry.
Zara piloted its clothing recycling scheme in 2016, and now has clothing bins installed in many of its stores. You can find your closest participating store here. All collected clothing is donated to charities including the Red Cross and Salvation Army, or recycled into other textiles, new fibres, and materials. You can donate any kind of clothing, household textiles, footwear, accessories, and jewellery.
There are, of course, many charity shops across London you can donate your clothing at. However, in addition to its 11 stores across the city, TRAID also offers a home collection service, as long as you have a bin bag full. You can book collection online or by email. Clothing must be in good enough condition for resale, and they’ll also accept shoes, accessories, and home textiles.
In addition to the places on this list, most city councils hold a list of textile recycling banks in the area. Contact your local council for more information. You can also look up textile banks at your local supermarkets on the Recycle Now website.