Embracing the fun of living a sustainable lifestyle by cutting your clothes waste

Did you ever gaze into your bulging wardrobe but still didn’t know what to wear? Now it’s time to start managing the clothes you have!

Every Sales Season like Christmas and the New Year, clothing retail stores are always occupied by endless streams of customers busy selecting their favorite items. Just have a look at the long queue waiting in front of the cash desk, we can get a glimpse of the passion that people have towards shopping for new clothes.

Women’s wear in the shopping mall. CC: Internet Photo

Clothing, is one of the most important necessities in our life, and it can also be a stylish embellishment to enhance their appearance. But, actually, do we really need that many new outfits every year?

Do you know how many clothes you’ve got? And where do your old items go after getting more and more new items?

16251282_404569889879522_1772548403_o (1)
Common picture on New Year Sale

After random interviews and giving out questionnaires to 30 people inquiring about their shopping choices at St. David Shopping Centre, more than 80%of the respondents said they already have a lot of clothes; and around 33% of those think “they can barely fit all their clothes into their wardrobe”.

What’s more, the majority of the interviewees also expressed their reason for buying new clothes was because they get bored wearing the same old thing and get enjoyed buying new, while only a tiny minority state that they do not have (enough) suitable clothes to wear.

According to the data released by Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), there are around 350,000 tons of used clothes going to landfill every year in the UK and they are estimated to cost more than 140 million pounds. In addition, around 30 per cent of the clothing of a household has not been worn in over one year.

Clothing that people throw away every 3 minutes in the UK. CC: Love Your Clothes

It is hard to say people shop for these new items really out of necessity. But large amounts of natural resources such as water, energy and land are consumed in the manufacturing process to meet people’s “massive need” for clothes. Moreover, growing the fibres for clothes, processing and dyeing garments also normally require ‘a cocktail of chemicals’, Recycle-Clothing Picsome of which are even toxic. Every single item we see and buy in clothing stores has plenty of invisible cost to the environment. So next time we go shopping, it’s necessary to think beyond the clothes on the rail and buy differently.

WRAP’s report of “Valuing our clothes” which released in 2016 demonstrates that extending the clothing life by just 3 months can reduce carbon, water and waste footprint by up to ten per cent. Clothes waste is commonly happening in life but even small changes can bring about significant differences.

To reduce the massive clothes waste, there are many ways for you to give it a go and make a positive change right now.

FIRSTStop impulsive shopping and support a more sustainable buying & dressing habit

The fast fashion industry which generally flaunts the concept of “Here Today Gone Tomorrow” may give people an accessible place to follow the fresh trend being released on the latest runway. However, the relatively low cost and the flexibility in design and quality accelerate a ‘throw-away’ culture in the society.

clothes shopping
Person selecting clothes. CC: Flickr

On the basis of the figures received through the questionnaire, more than 83% of the interviewees said they do not like the clothes they have very much and state they only like several pieces and think some of the clothes are actually very ordinary.


David Thomas, a customer at New Look retail shop said, “I know shopping for clothes extravagantly and ending up disliking them or throwing them away in a short period of time is really bad. But sometimes it feels like you are easily immersed in the furious environment and shop impulsively somehow”.

It’s common to experience the same feelings and shop impulsively sometimes. But try to ask yourself these questions when you are struggling to decide whether to buy or not will help you make a more sensible choice.

“Am I really into this piece of clothes?” “How much do I like it?” “What kind of occasion will I wear it?” and “How many times will I wear it?”

Graphic shopping
Silhouette of lady selecting clothes. CC: Internet Photo

Actually, these are not mean questions at all but help you select the pieces you really like. Fashion revolutionary, journalist Lucy Slegle said she only buys something that she knows she will wear at least 30 times.

Start optimizing your wardrobes and stop buying the clothes that you do not need. You will no longer experience the embarrassment of having nothing to wear when you gaze into your huge wardrobe!

SECOND Cherish your adorable items and embrace the fun of repairing & redesigning your pre-loved clothes.

It is reported that 1/3 of the average customer wardrobe has value but it is no longer used. It is time to rummage through your chests & drawers and reconsider the items being left out. You may have got tired of this white shirt or that pink dress; and the old jeans you have may also appear to be loose for you. But why not use your nimble fingers to revitalise these pre-loved items? Why not try redesigning & repairing them by yourself!

Tailoring tools. CC: Love Your Clothes

Currently, there are various sewing classes that can give you guidance and tips on repairing & redesigning clothes by yourself. You can choose to watch online classes or attend (physical) workshops. Don’t worry about being a green hand at the beginning. Just enjoy the fun and magic created by the needle and thread. You will be definitely impressed by the unique craft made by yourself every time

Here are some good sewing classes which are highly recommended! Choose the most suitable one for yourself and give your fingers an opportunity to dance. Let us see how talented you are!

1. Sewing classes in Cardiff.

If you are living in Cardiff and looking for sewing classes that you can attend in person, The Stitchery is the right place for you.

The Stitchery
Helen (Right), principal of The Stitchery. CC: The Stitchery

It is a sewing and design business based in Roath Cardiff which regularly provides sewing courses in a well-equipped sewing studio.
There is a wide range of workshops and classes, including Beginners Sewing Workshops, Beginners Evening Classes, Saturday Morning Sewing Club, and Teenagers Sewing Classes etc. You can also come here for a one to one sewing session.

If you’d like to find more information about The Stitchery, you can contact them via email: helengubb@yahoo.co.uk or phone 02920 463924.

2. Free Online Sewing Tutorials.


Sewing machine, labeling the different components. CC: Internet Photos

3. Three simple lessons on: (Click to watch)

THIRD: Give your unwanted items a second life by donating them to the people in need.

The clothes which are not suitable for you may have significant value for others. When you think you no longer need certain pieces of items, there are many rewarding ways for you to donate them. Hold on a second and think before throwing them in to the bin.

1. Download the app Done For Good and use it to find a new home for your unneeded clothes.
Done For Good is a smartphone app which helps the public find suitable places for them to donate their unwanted items. You only need to download the app which is free and available on both Android and Apple, take a photo of the item that you would like to donate and tell a bit about it. You can choose the charity which you want to donate to; and later the chosen charity will contact you and come to collect your items. It can largely save your time and energy for unneeded items as you don’t really need to carry a big bag of clothes to those charities.

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

2. Find a Smart Recycling drop-off point and earn cash for each kilogram.

Smart Recycling is a new concept for collecting your unwanted clothing and shoes. You can take your clothes to any Smart Recycling drop-off point and receive cash which can be used by yourself or give to support charities.

The organization promises that they will make sure people’s donated clothes get a socially & environmentally responsible reuse.

You can click HERE to enter your postcode and find the closest drop-off point to you across the UK.

Pic-Map Smart Recycling
Map of the locations of smart recycling point

3. Give a Gift Aid and donate your clothes to charity shops.

Currently, many charity shops claim Gift Aid arising from the sale of donated items. According to Charity Retail Association, this scheme allows charity stores to claim an extra 25 pence for every £1 a Gift-Aided donation raises. This means if you give a Gift-Aided donation to a charity shop, when your donated clothes are sold, the shop will receive extra 25 per cent of the selling price from the government. You need to give contact details to the charity shop as you will be notified how much you helped it to raise fund.

It is really rewarding to know that your donated items help charity raise money and your unneeded clothes start a second life in other people’s hands.

You can click HERE to find the nearest charity shop to you.

One customer is giving Gift Aid donation to a charity shop

FOURTH: Why not visit a second-hand store and discover your beloved items unexpectedly?

The greatest fun of shopping at second-hand stores is you never know what treasure you will find. Roaming about in a vintage clothes shop or a second-hand charity store, there must be some unexpected surprise waiting for you. Meet your favourite items and prolong their lifespan.

1. Vintage stores. 

Vintage stores & Retro clothes shops are the frequent for many fashion icons these days. Those classic styles have stood the test of time and gradually become many people’s love. If you are bored of the identical fast fashion designs, you must come to a vintage store.

No season’s must-have colour. No fashion show replicas. You can freely select the items which strike your heart or stimulate some of your old memories.

HOBO’S VINTAGE: Being back to the classic fashion of the nineties’ America

Hobo’s Vintage Store

Hobo’s Vintage is a vintage clothing store selling both men and women’s retro items. The clothes there are mainly from the United States and can date back to the 80s and 90s. It also has several pieces which are even older, being made in the 70s. Shopping in the store, you can also enjoy yourself by mixing & matching these items from different years and creating a the distinctive dressing style by yourself.

Various retro clothes selling in Hobo’s Vintage

The store is not very big or spacious (maybe because it really has an abundant collection of retro clothing in store) but the special vibe is enchanting. You may need to slow down your pace and spend quite some time to look for the items that you want. But it is always well worth and that’s exactly the fun of shopping for vintage clothes as well. Actually, when you are really there, you’ll be willing to spend more time there and relax yourself as you not only want to try them but feel them as well. n

Various retro clothes selling in Hobo’s Vintage

In the end, the only thing I have to remind you is that because it is a vintage store, some of the items may only have one piece or one size, regrettably. But I think this could even make vintage shopping more enthralling, doesn’t it?

Address: 26 High Street Arcade, City Centre, Cardiff CF10 1BE

Telephone: 029 2034 1188

Opening Time:

Monday to Saturday 10:30 am – 17:30 pm

Sunday                     12:00 pm – 16:00 pm

2. Charity shops

Visiting charity shops is not a new concept in the UK. Most charity shops in Cardiff receive good support from the public. And you can easily find various charity shops in Cardiff as well. The large majority of items sold in charity shops are donated by people. But do not turn your nose up these second-hand items. Actually, they can be a treasure in somebody’s eyes.

BOBATH CHARITY SHOP: The best deal ever

Bargain Charity Shop, Bobath

Bobath is one of the many charity shops in Cardiff and it is a bargain shop. You can really find a few valuable clothes such as well-tailored pants and quality shirts there and most of them are only one pound. So it’s really a good deal!

In addition, although the price is quite cheap, the shopkeepers patiently tidy up the donated clothes they received and allocate them to different areas. These people run the business seriously and the profit they get will be used for helping local children who have cerebral palsy to get vital specialist therapy. Every purchase of yours will support them to do more for the local children. So why not visit a charity shop like this someday and use the little money to make a big difference?

Bobath Charity Shop in Cardiff

Address: 115 Crwys Rd, Cardiff, CF24 4NG

Telephone: 029 2037 1426

Finding more information about the charity shop on info@bobathwales.org

FIFTH: Support the ‘upcycled fashion’ and try renewal clothes

In the dictionary, ‘upcycle’ means to reuse discarded objects or materials in a certain way to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. In fashion term, upcycling is a revolutionary concept that aims to make the greatest use of clothes by reusing & redesigning the old pieces and turning them into favored new items. In recent years, an increasing number of brands have started to find ways dealing with the clothes waste and practicing ‘upcycled fashion’.

One Memoir is a start-up sustainable fashion company which is practicing the upcycled fashion idea. It was established with the belief that the upcycled fashion can be a good alternative to the wasteful fast fashion. It also gives extensive support and platform for upcoming designers to use their talent and passion to redesign pre-loved clothes.

Items selling on Memoir Shopping Website

“We source textile waste from the UK and work with designers around the world, providing them with pre-loved jackets which they upcycle one piece at a time,” said the founder of the brand.

Each piece of clothes there is dedicatedly treated by designers and they are all uniquely handcrafted into new looks. These old items are not only revitalized but also work well as a ‘memoir’, containing some special memories of the past.

In addition, there are also fast fashion brands trying to make customers consume fashion more sustainably.

High fashion retailer H&M in a shopping mall. CC: Internet Photo

H&M, Topshop, and Urban Outfitters etc… these are some of the most frequently-visited fast fashion brands for young customers. These fast fashion brands also launched renewal clothing collection recently.

When you shop at Urban Outfitters physically or online, you can find a specialized area displaying & selling renewal clothing. If you like the styles of the clothes sold there, why don’t you try some items in this area? The renewal collection won’t disappoint you. Actually, you don’t even realize that the item you selected is a pre-loved one sometimes because these renewal clothes look the same as those entirely new clothes. No matter the quality or the design, they will never let you down.

Renewal Clothes Section at Urban Outfitters Clothing Retail Store
Urban Outfitters Renewal Clothing Label

Besides Urban Outfitters, fast fashion brands like H&M and Topshop also have recycled & upcycled clothes collection. The items which are made of recycled textiles are clearly labelled with the recycled components, helping customers be aware of the sustainable shopping choice.

H&M Recycled Clothing Label

The five ways above to reduce clothes waste are accessible in life. Manage your wardrobe and consume fashion differently, you can not only enjoy the happiness of the sustainable life but benefit the environment.