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£30bn of unused clothing stored in our wardrobes

July 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm

There are currently 1.7 billion items of old clothing stored away in the UK’s wardrobes which have not been used for a year or longer, according to new figures from WRAP, the waste reduction body.

The average home has £4,000 of clothes in its wardrobes, but nearly a third of these are not worn for a year or longer with the main reason being that they no longer fit. All of these clothes are worth a combined total of £30 billion.

WRAP discovered the figures after carrying out research for its study called ‘Valuing Our Clothes’, which suggests that by making more use of our old clothes we can reduce waste, reduce the use of valuable resources and even benefit financially.

The report states that as much as a third of clothing goes to landfill when it is not being used. However, alternatives to this include giving them to charities or local authorities, or even just giving them to friends or exchanging them so that they can then be reused or recycled.

Another alternative is to sell your old clothes which could have financial benefits as well, which could be tempting in these times of austerity.

By using clothes for longer, the report also suggests that we could reduce the use of resources such as carbon, water and waste which could go down 20% to 30% if we use clothes for just nine months longer than normal, and this could potentially save £5 billion in resources.

WRAP also suggests a business model whereby retailers purchase their own clothes back from the consumers and resell them. Over half of people surveyed said they would be happy to do this, and two thirds said they would be open to buying returned clothes.

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