General ramblings, Really Useful-Making Do

Textile Re-use Resources

November 11, 2015

For those of you who missed it, Episode 2 of Hugh’s War on Waste aired on BBC1 on Monday night, and had some shocking stats on textile waste. Like this one: Here in the UK, we throw away 10,000 garments every 10 minutes. That’s this pile of clothes. Every ten MINUTES.

Textile Waste
Oh my goodness.
I try not to be too dogmatic here, and to be upbeat and encouraging, but that is obscene. There is no other way to describe it.

In the UK, more than 30% of our clothes end up in landfill.
This means that each year about £140,000,000 worth of clothes are chucked in our black bins and sent to fill up our landfill sites.
Many of these garments have little wrong with them, and could have easily been sold on by charity shops. Even items that might be past their best can still be utilised, and the ‘rag industry’ pays charity shops for their ‘rag bags’ and takes them away for re-use (some are cut up and sold as bags of cleaning rags to garages etc, and some can be made into recycled garments.)
How are clothes ever ending up in the bin?
Clothes should never be ending up in landfill. They can be repaired, re-used, re-fashioned, and lastly recycled. But never binned. Never.

Fast fashion has seen prices of clothes plummet, and when items can be picked up for as little as £1, some see clothes as entirely disposable, and buy them to wear once or twice before disposing of them when they want something new.
I was once told of a family who bought whole new wardrobes of clothes to go on holiday with, only to put them in the bin, the actual bin, not the recycling, when they got back home, as they “weren’t worth washing”.
It shocks and depresses me in equal measures that this is the world we live in.
A world where people value their own appearance, their own convenience, over someone else’s life, and over our planet.

But bemoaning other people’s actions isn’t going to get us very far is it?
How about a round up of resources that you can use to ensure that your clothes get repaired, upcycled, re-purposed, re-loved, or failing all else, recycled?

Here goes.


  • Love Your Clothes
    A brilliant website packed with LOADS of tutorials and advice for all kinds of clothing repair-from sewing on a button to mending a seam
  • I wrote some pieces for the Guardian last year on patching, replacing zips, dealing with moth holes, and rescuing bleach stained clothes.
    There’s also one on how to mend jeans.

    Textile waste-moth holes

    How to mend moth holes Image from The Guardian

  • Follow Tom of Holland for all kinds of visible mending and darning inspiration-the man is a genius with a needle and thread
  • Here’s a round up of patching methods for all those jeans with holes
  • If you are lucky enough to live near the beautiful city of Bath, pop along to The Big Mend, at the Museum of Bath at Work on the last Wednesday of every month. It’s a meet up of menders, and is a lovely way to meet like minded folk, get a little help if you are stuck with a particular mend, or just sit and mend and chat and eat cake.
  • Check out if you have a Repair Cafe near you. They often have volunteers on hand who are a whiz with a sewing machine, and who can help you fix your clothes

There are loads of easy, simple ways to re-purpose, jazz up, and otherwise re-love our clothes.

  • Just changing the buttons on a garment can be enough to totally change the look of it. I’m a total button addict and will use any opportunity to raid the button tin I inherited from my Nana! Check out this post where I put ‘new’ buttons on a charity shop coat
  • Old t-shirts have a multitude of uses. Here’s an article I wrote for The Mirror with 5 ways to upcycle old t-shirts.
    You can even use old t-shirts to make new pants!
  • Jeans are another of those super versatile things that I never throw away. Once they are beyond patching, they can be turned in shorts, or skirts, or if all else feels cut up and used for making a quilt. Here’s a round up post with lots of great ideas.
    BI-jeans 2
  • If you have inadvertently shrunk a favourite woolly jumper in the wash, don’t despair! You can still wear it, after you’ve turned it into a woolly hat and gloves set 🙂
    And if you need a spot of inspiration for woolly upcycling, check out The Woolly Pedlar, and all her wonderful creations!

  • For LOADS more clothes upcycling ideas, take a peek at my Upcycling…Clothes board on Pinterest!
  • If you don’t fancy the DIY approach then check out TRAID. TRAID is a brilliant charity working to stop clothes being thrown away. They have a network of clothes banks nationwide, and charity shops (largely in London), and transform other people’s cast offs into high quality stock for their shops. So you can wear fabulously upcycled and re-loved clothes without any of the associated work!
    Stay tuned for more news of their Secondhand First week, and find out more about the Secondhand First Pledge.

Clothes should never ever ever go in the black bin destined for landfill.
If you no longer love or want something, pass it on to your local charity shop-sometimes you don’t even need to bother going there yourself, you can just fill one of the charity bags that come through your door (make sure they are a bona fide charity with a valid charity number) and wait for them to pick it up.
Many councils will now collect textiles as part of their kerbside collections, so if you have some things that you think charity shops might not want, bung them in your recycling bin for the council. These things are often then sold on to be recycled.
If your kids are at school or pre-school, then a really great fundraiser can be projects like “Phil the Bag” or “Bag 2 School“. These are super simple-you ring up and arrange a day for a collection, and then ask all the parents to bring in any unwanted textiles. The company pick up your textiles, weigh them and pay you cash for them!

In the programme, Hugh FW said that he doesn’t think we can change our obsession with fashion, but that we can change what we do with our clothes.
I kind of hope that maybe we can change our obsession with fashion. Or at least our obsession with fast fashion.
If the first step is getting people to think more about what they do with their clothes once they no longer want them, then maybe it will start to filter down, that actually we all need to be more mindful about the clothes we are buying in the first place, and then there would be less to dispose of.

On Twitter, Greenpeace asked people for their top tips for reducing clothes waste.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 13.04.35

What are yours?
Share them below or on the Facebook page, or tweet me (@makeandmendyear) and I’ll do a round up post with all your fab ideas.

Textile Resources-P

And lastly!
Do join us for #makedoandmendhour Thursday 8-9pm on Twitter.
This week, it’s all about (you guessed it) textile waste!

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