From rags to riches

Top tips to reduce clothing waste

Clearing out your wardrobe? There are lots of ways to give your unwanted clothes, shoes and accessories a second life, even if they aren’t in perfect condition. Check out our #WasteNothing top tips to help reduce clothing waste.

Make the most of what you already own

  • If an item of clothing is broken, could it be repaired? Love Your Clothes has helpful video guides showing how to fix zippers, patch holes, darn socks and fix bra underwires.
  • For more difficult repairs you may need some specialist help. The Good Wardrobe has a Bristol-based directory of tailors, cobblers, and places that do alterations.
  • Could it be upcycled or refashioned to bring it back into use?
  • If it’s not salvageable as is, could the material be saved for a craft project? Used to wrap presents? Or cut up and turned into cleaning rags?

Try swopping

  • Clothes swops are a great way to get rid of unwanted clothing and find items that are new-to-you. Try swopping with friends and family or look out for organised events taking place in your area.
  • Swopped is an online swop shop – donate your clothes to collection points and use the points to buy second hand clothes from their site.

Get savvy and sell them

Some of your unwanted clothing may be suitable for reselling. It’s a great way to give items a new home and make back some of the money you spent buying them. To reduce clothing waste you could try selling:

Donate them to charity

  • Charity shops – some charity shops can get inundated with donations, so phone up or pop in to check they are accepting donations before taking bags in.
  • Clothing banks – you can find charity clothing banks using Bristol City Council’s Recycling Centre Finder and selecting “textiles” or “shoes” from the list of materials.
  • In-store collection points – some high street retailers including M&S, Primark, H&M, TK Maxx, Zara, and Clarks have clothing and accessories, or shoe collection points in their stores.
  • Donation bags – some charities offer a doorstep bag collection service, so you don’t even need to leave the house. Alternatively, you can request a free post bag or label from Oxfam, Re-Fashion or Thrift+ to post donated items free of charge.

Send them for reuse with your recycling

In Bristol reusable clothing, textiles and spectacles can be put out for collection through household kerbside recycling. You can put the following items in your black recycling box:

  • Clothes and textiles – put clean, dry, wearable or reusable textiles in clearly labelled, untied carrier bags. Damaged, soiled, or wet textiles cannot be accepted.
  • Spectacles and cases
  • Shoes – must be wearable, paired, tied together, dry, and in a labelled carrier bag.

Bristol’s Reuse and Recycling Centres at Avonmouth and St Philip’s both have clothing banks and can accept dry, clean textiles, paired shoes, spectacles, and clean, useable clothes. Rags are not accepted. Check visiting arrangements and queue cameras before visiting.

What about broken textiles or rags?

Some charity shops, clothing banks, and in-store collection points accept non-reusable, damaged textiles or rags. These donations do still need to be clean, so should be washed and dried before donation. Put them in a bag clearly labelled “rags”. Check with individual locations first.

Share your #WasteNothing ideas with us

Have you tried any of these ideas? Or do you have any other tips for giving unwanted clothes a second life? Tell us about it on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #WasteNothing


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