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How To Recycle Your Textiles

Posted on: March 5, 2015

For many years there has been confusion and a lack of advice as to where and how textiles can be recycled. On average a UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes which 30% haven't been worn within the last year. We also bin 350,000 tonnes of used clothing every year, that's the equivalent to the weight of more than 29,000 London buses! The Textile Recycling Association has recently appointed a new president who wants to get the message across to the UK that there's many ways to recycle textiles.

Ian Woods, the new president of TRA said in a recent interview: "We look forward to continuing our work with WRAP and Zero Waste Scotland on the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, and through the Bureau of International Recycling we will continue to push the textile recycling agenda at international level. This industry is in a position to make a significant contribution to the circular economic and carbon reduction targets and the Textile Recycling Association will be the forefront of this."

What to do with your textiles

We all own different types of textiles such as clothes, curtains and towels but a lot of it we don't even need or use, so what do we do with it all? There are many ways of getting rid of unwanted textiles such as selling them, passing them onto charity and of course, recycling them.

Charity and re-use organisations

  • Donate any unwanted items to charity or a re-use organisation such as the TRA.
  • Find your local clothing and shoe bank; these are sometimes located at supermarkets or local car parks.
  • Why not organise a fundraising event in your local area? A lot of textile businesses enjoy helping raise money for a good cause.


Selling unwanted clothes has become increasingly popular and there are many ways of doing it. Two thirds of people already buy pre-owned and vintage clothes, so now is a better time than ever to sell yours too!

  • Sell them online on Ebay, Gumtree or Preloved
  • In some towns or cities there are 'cash for clothes' outlets and agencies
  • You can pass on your items for free at places such as Freecycle and Freegle

Friends and family

  • It's always a good idea to ask friends and family to see if they could use the things you don't want anymore
  • Car boots are also a good place to sell or buy textiles
  • Local community groups and school may want to help you collect textiles to help raise money

On the high street

  • Some high street stores collect unwanted clothes.
  • If you have any vintage shops in your area, they are always interested in buying funky retro clothes.

Repairing your clothes

Just because your items might be ripped, worn or just don't quite fit anymore doesn't mean you have to throw them away. You can alter or repair them to give them a second life.

  • If you're not sure how, ask family or friends to help you, there is always someone you know who is good with a needle and thread

Recycle them

If you have a pile of clothes or textiles that can't be used by anyone else or unsuitable for wear, they can be recycled and re-used for other products, such as cloths for cleaning.

  • Many councils now have collection banks or schemes set up to collect clothes or textiles.
  • Some charities collect clothing and textiles for recycling, check with your local store or on the bags that come through your door
  • Check to see if your clothing and textile banks take recycling items

As you can see, there are so many different ways of re-using your clothes and textiles, so the next time you clear out your wardrobe, think about what you can do with all that fabric!

A recycling skip