Australians send around $500 million in fashion clothing to the tip each year. More than 95 per cent of this can be recycled or reused.
The fashion industry contributes to around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions due to its long supply chains and energy intensive production. The industry consumes more energy than the international flights and shipping industry combined. Learn more about this issue in the textiles industry.
Textiles are the most carbon-intensive material per tonne, so small change can have a big impact. Here are some ways to reduce, reuse and recycle unwanted clothing.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you really need what you're buying?
- Can you rent, borrow or swap clothing?
- Will you wear the clothes much?
Renting and borrowing are great for one-off events like weddings. Online platforms like The Volte can connect you to lenders of clothes for special occasions. That way you can look great while spending less.
Cost is also important. A new $10 shirt is probably low-quality and may be fast fashion, so it won't last long and will end up in landfill.
A good test of clothing quality is considering how much you'd like to be paid to make an item.
If you asked the above questions and still want to buy new clothes, check that they were made with ethical and environmental considerations. Here are some good questions:
- Are the people who made your clothes paid and treated fairly?
- Where was the clothing made?
- Is the clothing made from natural fibres (like cotton, bamboo, wool or denim), or fossil fuel–based fibres (like plastics, polyester and nylon)?
Here are some great ways to reuse clothes and minimise your fashion footprint:
- Buy second-hand clothes – check out our Darebin Op Shop guide map and watch our video on where to shop second-hand in Darebin.
- Swap clothes – a swap party is a fun and sustainable way to refresh your wardrobe. Download the Recycling Near You Big Aussie Swap information sheet to find out how to host a swap party.
- Mend clothes – visit the Darebin Repair Cafe Facebook page to find a repair workshop. There are lots of great mending tips and tricks online, and clothing repair stores can help with more complex issues.
Explore our interactive Sustainable Darebin Map for places to borrow, share, donate, and buy and fix second-hand items.
What to do with unwanted clothes
- Try advertising on online platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay and The Uniform Exchange
- Check consignment stores such as Mutual Muse and Use-Ta!
- Give away your clothes to friends and family
- Give to local op shops in Darebin
- Use online platforms, such as:
- Good Karma Network
- Dress For Success and Fitted For Work, programs that help women experiencing disadvantage to find work and keep it
- Shoes For Planet Earth, a non-profit organisation that works with local and international organisations to provide reused running shoes to those in need around the world
- Revamp your wardrobe or find alternative uses for pre-loved clothes
- Send your unwanted textiles to Upparel so they can be reused, upcycled, or recycled
- Drop off your pre-loved sports shoes at participating retail stores of the ASGA Save Our Soles Footwear Recycling Initiative
Clothes that have reached their end of life can be composted in your home compost if they are natural fibres. Otherwise, they should be placed in the general waste bin.