Over 1 in 6 adults throw their unwanted clothes in the bin rather than seek more sustainable disposal alternatives, and nearly a third of people (31%) say that they would be more likely to replace a damaged item of clothing with a new one rather than try and fix it, according to new research commissioned by London’s leading recycling company, First Mile.
Clothing has the fourth largest impact on the environment after housing, transport and food , but the OnePoll survey of 2,000 UK adults reveals little consumer awareness of the issue, with survey results shining a light on the throwaway attitude that many people have when it comes to their clothing.
The UK already disposes of a shocking 350,000 tonnes of clothing in landfill every year , with First Mile’s poll results showing an average 16% of people saying that they dispose of their unwanted clothing by throwing it in the bin. People living in the London and the South West are those most likely to throw clothes away (both 21%), with those in East Anglia least likely to do so (10%). Age is also significant factor, with 25-34 year-olds most likely to throw their clothes in the bin (22%) and those aged 55+ least likely to do so (13%).
Over 40% of adults say that they buy new clothes at least once a month but a significant proportion of people appear to view their clothing as a disposable commodity, with nearly a quarter (22%) saying that they are put off fixing their clothes because it’s easier to buy a replacement, and one in five (17%) saying it’s cheap enough just to buy a replacement. In total, only 18% of people strongly disagree with the statement that they would be more likely to buy a new item of clothing to replace a damaged one.
The First Mile survey also highlights that a lack of basic sewing knowledge and/or confidence is contributing to clothes not being mended, with two-thirds (62%) of people saying that they are deterred from fixing small faults because they either don’t know how, or they’re scared of making a mistake. This number rises to 77% for 18-24 year olds, compared to just 38% of those aged 55+. In total, nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents say that they don’t have the time to carry out repairs to their clothing.