Textiles recycling

Every year we are throwing away more and more textiles, most of which could be worn again.

The need to keep up with current styles means in the UK we purchase 2.15 million tonnes of new clothing and shoes each year and throw away over 1.4 million tonnes to make room for it. The production of textiles and textile waste is very damaging to the environment.

In the past clothes were always recycled, via hand me downs in families or by mending clothes to make them last longer. Now to save money and to create an individual look, more and more people are being creative with their fashion. For hints and tips, please see the following:


  • Be a smart shopper, only buy clothes that you know will wear often and buy items that won't go out of fashion easily.
  • Follow the washing instructions to help clothes last longer. If you spill something on your clothes rinse it immediately to stop it staining permanently.
  • Rotate your clothes to stop them wearing out quickly.
  • Hire for special occasions. If you'll wear something once see if you can hire it. Hats, suits and dresses can all be rented.
  • Borrow clothes from your friends.


  • Donate clothing that can be worn again to a charity shop for re-sale. If possible try and take the clothes to the charity shop, instead of using door step collections. For help and advice on using doorstep collections, please view the no cold calling leaflet, available below.
  • Buy clothes from charity shops or vintage shops.
  • Organise a Swap Shop party, this can be a great way to bring people together.

Recycled bagRevive

  • Make basic repairs, sew buttons back on and repair hems that have come undone.
  • Learn a new skill and find a local sewing course. Ask at your local school or college, or check out the local newspaper.
  • Be creative with your fashion; if you are bored with a piece of clothing give it a new lease of life by adding buttons, ribbons, etc, to it.


If your clothes can't be reused then put them in a textile bank so they can be recycled. Find out where your local textile bank is.

Please note that clothes, shoes and textiles do not have to be in a good condition to be recycled. Those that cannot be used again will be shredded and used as stuffing for car seats, etc. Please do not put any textiles in your black bin.

Recycling bins and advice

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