Top 4 Ways To Reduce Clothing Waste

I have too many clothes. I'm not hooked on shopping for fashion items but over the course of many years, I have acquired so many pieces because I have a tendency to reuse, restyle and re-wear my clothes over and over again.
Quite unbelievably, a lot of clothing in this country goes to waste. A lot of clothes (worn, unworn or unused) end up going to landfill sites when they could go to charity, and this is very problematic because it's so damaging to the environment. Someone once told me that clothes contribute heavily to the amount of waste on the planet, and a friend recently told me that some stores burn clothes if they don't sell or clear them by the end of the season. That's so shocking!

Everyone has the potential to 'do their bit' for the environment and reduce the amount of clothing waste they accumulate. Here are the top four ways to do that.

1. Read the labels.
Part of the reason why clothes go to waste is that many people find clothing care labels hard to understand. Data Label recently ran a survey that showed that 56% of people find the laundry symbols to be confusing. As a result, they're either put off wearing things - and letting them sit in the back of the wardrobe - or are washing them in the wrong way and ending up with ruined clothes.

From a very young age, I have been doing my own laundry and I sometimes hand wash my clothes. I kind of understand the labels but from time to time I need to re-read them. Understanding clothing care symbols is very important for ensuring that clothes are washed properly and not ruined in the process. I've attached an infographic that explains what wash care symbols mean.

A copy of the infographic and more findings from the survey can be found and read here.
Also, common sense helps a little bit in certain instances - i.e. don't wash whites and coloured-clothing together, separate light colours from dark colours, use colour catchers, hand wash some items only, wash certain materials on a low temperature, dry clean coats, etc. The list is endless! It's not hard to learn how to do laundry properly and you can accomplish the task in little time.

2. Reuse and re-style
Some people wear clothes once and then throw away, which is really bad for the environment - and a total waste of money. When I was in school there was this belief that if you wore items more than once then it meant that you were 'poor' and unfashionable but that's simply not true. Clothes can be worn over and over again and re-styled so that your outfits and looks always look fresh. Even 'throwaway' fashionable pieces can be worn again.

3. Give clothes away
I'm sure we all have fashionable pieces that we hardly ever wear or have never ever worn. I have a lot of clothes and I wear them over and over again - I even have clothes that I've worn since my early teenage years! But even I admit that I have clothes that I don't wear anymore, and clothes that I've never even tried on. Once in a while, I like to declutter: I sort through items and I put unwanted clothes in a separate pile and then I give them away. I normally give away clothes to family members, but you can give clothes away to charity. You can also swap and exchange clothes with friends and family. You could even recycle clothes. There are many schemes out there where you can recycle or donate your clothes - some will even pay you cash!

If you find it hard deciding to give clothes away then ask yourself:
- Do I need it?
- Do I want it?
- Will I actually wear this?
- When did I last wear this?
- What can I style this with?
- When and where can I wear this?

Be honest. If you know you'll never wear that item again then give it away, but don't throw unwanted clothes in the bin.

4. Don't buy clothes you don't need.
I'm sure we all do it. We end up getting caught up in the seasonal shop sales and falling for the online discounts. Brands and retailers have a great way of getting consumers into the #FEELINGSPENDY mode. It's easy to give into temptation and spend on clothes that we really don't need - but just don't. Yes, treat yourself to retail therapy from time to time and update your wardrobe, but don't make this a habit. Take a look at your wardrobe: you might have some clothes that you've never worn, and re-style these fashionable pieces for a fresher look.

What are your tips for reducing, reusing and recycling clothes?

*Information for this post was provided in a press release by Data Label. All opinions are my own.


  1. Great tips! I love the questions to ask yourself, I find myself doing more of that as soon as I find the item in my hands! Thanks for sharing Chichi.

    Yasmin xx

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