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UK Retailers, Designers, NGOs Coming Together to Reduce Waste, Remind Consumers to ‘Love Your Clothes’

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), with the help of dozens of prominent retailers, designers and NGOs from the UK clothing industry, on Tuesday launched a new campaign aimed at reducing encouraging Brits to find new appreciation for their unwanted clothes.

According to research conducted by WRAP, the UK has a staggering £30 billion worth of clothes in wardrobes that haven’t been worn in the last year, and UK consumers annually throw away clothing that is still worth at least £140 million. So, with the cooperation of retailers M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and John Lewis, fashion brands including Stella McCartney and Ted Baker, and the support of over 30 suppliers, NGOs and recyclers, WRAP has launched the “Love Your Clothes” campaign to help UK shoppers reconnect to those lost billions languishing in their wardrobes.

The campaign is the latest by WRAP, the organization behind the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, which helps consumers waste less food and save money in the process. With Love Your Clothes, WRAP is looking to combine its reuse and recycling know-how with tips shared by armchair experts in homes across the country, who WRAP is hoping will share their own experiences.

The campaign website has advice on choosing clothing designed to last longer; buying pre-owned clothes; using gentler laundry methods; repairing and altering clothes; and donating, swapping or selling on unwanted garments, and is looking for more tips and tricks from the community. The site also explains how clothes that are too damaged or worn for reuse can still be donated for textile recycling rather than ending up in the bin.

WRAP Chief Executive Liz Goodwin said: “Clothes cost money. Not getting the most out of them by mixing and matching garments, repairing favoured items, selling them on, or giving to charity shops means we’re not getting the most out of that hard-earned money and wasting scarce resources.”

So far, 53 organizations throughout the British clothing sector – those mentioned above and dozens more – are showing their support for the campaign or committing to taking action themselves by signing on to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) and its 2020 Commitment. Also coordinated by WRAP and announced on Tuesday, the 53 signatories and supporters of the Commitment have all pledged a 15 percent reduction in carbon, water and in waste going to landfill, plus a 3.5 percent reduction in waste arising per ton of clothing by 2020. The goal is to help reduce the environmental impact of clothing from the design stage, through to manufacture, sale and end of use.

WRAP says if these targets are met, it could amount to an annual carbon saving equivalent to removing 250,000 cars from the road, a water saving equivalent to 170,000 Olympic sized swimming pools, and 16,000 tons less waste being created in the first place.

“SCAP has excellent industry buy-in with signatories representing 40 percent of UK clothing sales and many leading charities and recyclers on board,” Goodwin said. “By agreeing to these stretching targets they are demonstrating their commitment to reducing the environmental footprint of the sector.

UK shoppers should begin to spot the Love Your Clothes logo appearing in shops, on recycling banks, in charity shops and on waste-collection vehicles.

On Black Friday 2013 here in the States, socially conscious outdoor apparel company Patagonia continued to tout more sustainable consumption with its latest campaign, Worn Wear — “an invitation to celebrate the stuff you already own.” The company hosted Black Friday Worn Wear parties at 15 of its retail locations nationwide and released a 30-min short film that tells the stories of eight people and the well-loved, well-used pieces of Patagonia clothing that have become part of their lives.

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