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Shopping more sustainably

The clothes we buy have a huge impact on our carbon emissions and the waste we create. The global fashion industry creates 10% of world carbon emissions and creates 92 million tonnes of waste a year - equivalent to a truck full of clothing waste every second.

There are ways to keep your wardrobe looking fresh and minimising your impact on the planet. Have a look at our advice for buying clothes sustainably.

Most people in the UK only wear an item 10 times before disposing of it. Wearing new clothes for longer reduces the environmental impact and can save you time and money searching for more. 

If you do want to buy new items, consider what impacts you are most concerned about and seek out brands that address those issues. Good on You is a website and app that advises on the environmental impacts of clothing and can be a useful tool to help make informed decisions about the impact of the clothes you buy. Some of the issues that are commonly considered include:

Water usage and clothing

One cotton t-shirt can use as much as 2,500 litres of water in production.

Images of dried up lakes and reservoirs attributed to the fashion industry are becoming more common. However, there are simple swaps that can help save water like buying recycled clothing and buying clothing made from materials that require less water to produce (such as hemp, linen, Tencel and bamboo). Find out more about which materials are more or less sustainable.

Buying organic

Organic clothing tends to have lower carbon emissions, as non-organic clothing crops require lots of energy to produce pesticides and fertilisers.

Many high street brands as well as environmentally friendly brands now produce organic lines.

Quality of clothing

Good quality clothing lasts longer. You can tell if clothing is good quality before you buy from a glance, have a look if:

  • the seams are well finished, this is an indicator of high quality clothing that won’t come unravelled.
  • the clothing is see through and the material feels light this could be an indicator that the property is poor quality
  • The material feels heavy, this can be an indicator of good thickness, meaning the clothing is less likely to tear

Find out more about looking for good quality clothing.

Page updated: 08/08/2022 Page updated by: Waste Management

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