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Reduce, re-use, repair and recycle your clothing!

  • by JW

The Fashion Industry produces more clothes than we can buy.

We buy more clothes than we can use.


Steve Coogan and Michael Winterbottom’s satire on the billionaires at the head of the fashion industry pulls no punches – with an interview in the weekend’s i newspaper:

Steve Coogan: ‘The press had empowered me by emptying my closet of skeletons’|


The Irish Times is even more explicit:


Greed: How Sony censored Steve Coogan’s new fashion-tycoon send-up

End your film with shocking statistics? No way, the studio told Michael Winterbottom

Greed is a boisterous satire largely set during the lavish 60th-birthday party in Mykonos (Coldplay, newly built amphitheatre, lion) of a British fashion mogul with deep tan and alarming teeth, based heavily on Philip Green, the owner of Topshop and Topman, among other companies. Steve Coogan stars as Sir Richard “Greedy” McCready; David Mitchell plays a journalist roped into writing his biography, who travels to the Far East to tour the factories that manufacture the clothes that have made his subject so rich.

The original version of the film ended with a series of cards spelling out how real life is yet more grotesque than fiction. How workers in Myanmar and Bangladesh earn €3.30 and €2.60 a day making clothes for high-street brands while H&M’s owner, Stefan Persson, is worth about €16 billion and Zara’s owner, Amancio Ortega, €60 billion.

At the first test screening, in March, reports Winterbottom, these cards were a big hit. “People didn’t find the message annoying; they loved it. But, unfortunately, we were told we couldn’t put them in the film.”

Greed: How Sony censored Steve Coogan’s new fashion-tycoon send-up |


But we can’t simply blame the ‘billionaires’, as we all seem to be quite happy with this state of affairs.

And it’s not just the sweatshops of South Asia which bear the brunt of our insatiable appetite for clothes:


The Fashion Industry produces more clothes than we can buy. We buy more clothes than we can use.

Every year billions of items of clothing “end up” in places like Accra, Ghana.

Dead White Man’s Clothes is a multimedia research project comprised of hours of audiovisual recordings, thousands of photos and multiple datasets exploring the impact of “used” clothing in and around Kantamanto Market in Accra. As we compile this information with an open-source spirit, we invite you to ask questions and leave comments to help guide our work. Please visit to contribute your voice.

Dead White Man’s Clothes Trailer |


The UK as a huge producer of waste clothing:

UK named fourth largest textile waste producer in Europe |

Whilst a recent government report puts the UK as the largest producer of waste clothing after the US:

Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability |


So, what can we do about it?

Twenty years ago, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) was set up to promote sustainable waste management.

It tells us to love our clothes a little more:

And amongst all the information it offers on the circular economy, it has some very useful stuff to say about the clothing industry:


Textiles – Overview


The production, use and disposal of clothes has a significant environmental impact. After transport, utilities, construction, and food, the clothing industry represents the fifth-biggest environmental footprint of any UK business sector.

Key points

  • The average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes.
  • Around 30% of clothing in wardrobes has not been worn for at least a year.
  • The cost of this unused clothing in the wardrobe is estimated to be around £30 billion.
  • An estimated £140 million worth (around 350,000 tonnes) of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year.
  • Two-thirds of UK consumers buy or receive pre-owned (or second-hand) clothes, and there is a willingness to wear more, especially if a better range were available.
  • At HWRCs nearly 30% of non-clothing textiles were estimated to be re-usable.

The Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) has identified numerous opportunities for business, consumers and local authorities to reduce the impact of clothing.

Changes to the way the UK supplies, uses and disposes of clothing could reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of clothing consumption by 10-20% by 2020 under the SCAP.

Love Your Clothes has also been developed as part of the SCAP to raise awareness of the value of clothes and how their lifetime can be extended.

Local Authorities can provide guidance and information to encourage repair and ensure more clothing and non-clothing textiles are collected for re-use and recycling.

Textiles – Overview |


Locally, we have a great place to encourage re-use of clothing:


And finally, there is the recycling accreditation scheme: