Find out how to reduce, reuse, revive or recycle your clothes, shoes and textiles.
Every year, 1.4 million tonnes of clothing and textiles is thrown away in the UK. 30% of the discarded clothes have never been worn - contributing to the UK's unused clothing bill of £30 million.
Discarding clothes and textiles also affects the environment. The total carbon footprint of clothing in the UK last year was 26.2 million tonnes of C02.
The majority of clothes/textiles can easily be recycled or reused.
Please do not put clothes, shoes, bedding or textiles in your household recycling bin.
To find out how to recycle specific clothes/textiles items, see our Reuse and recycling A-Z.
Top tips to reduce clothing and textiles waste
- Savvy saver - do you really need a new top/shirt or bag? Think about saving the money instead to buy something special.
- Hire clothes - occasions such as weddings and christenings usually means buying a new dress, hat or suit. Try rental options online or in store instead.
- Disposable fashion - buy clothing items that will not date or go out of fashion quickly. A classic blazer or jacket, plain t-shirt and a pair of jeans can be mixed and matched with other items to create different looks and styles.
- Washing - follow laundry instructions carefully to reduce the need to replace items. Rinse spills immediately to prevent stains.
- Buy clothes/textiles from charity or vintage shops or donate items. Use Charity Retail Association: find your nearest charity shop to find a charity shop near you.
- Donate items to County Durham Socialist Clothing Bank. Visit County Durham Socialist Clothing Bank on Facebook to find out more.
- Organise your own, or attend, a Swishing Clothes Swap Shop event/party. This way you can donate items and also take new items home with you - usually free of charge. See Get Swishing for an event near you.
- Donate bras to the Against Breast Cancer charity. Visit Against Breast Cancer: bra recycling to find your local bra bank location in the county.
Revive and repair
- Do basic clothing repairs such as sewing holes, hems or replacing lost buttons and broken zips.
- Add brooches, bows, ribbons or sequins to plain clothing items/jeans/t-shirts/trousers/jackets to create a new look.
- Make new items from old items by upcycling clothes. Old sheets/duvet covers or fabric can be used to make new pillowcases, cushion covers or doll/teddy bear clothes.
Once you have exhausted all of the above options, your clothes/textiles can be recycled.
- Please do not put clothes, shoes, fashion bags, bedding or textiles into your blue-lidded recycling bin as we cannot recycle these items from your household recycling bin.
- Take items to a household waste recycling centre. Clothes, shoes and textiles do not have to be in good condition to be recycled as they will be stripped, shredded and turned into new products.
- To find out how to recycle specific clothes/textiles items, see our reuse and recycling A-Z.
- Use the Recycle Now search engine to find other recycling outlets near you.
- 'Bag 2 School' collects clothes/textiles items taken to schools. Check with your local school whether they offer the scheme or visit Bag 2 School for details.
- Many large fashion brands offer a retail take-back scheme where you can drop off/recycle clothes in-store. Check fashion brand websites for further information.