Resource Use

WRAP launches ‘Love Your Clothes’ campaign


The body for UK waste strategies, the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), has launched two new strategies to reduce the environmental footprint of clothes.

As part of its Sustainable Clothing Action Plan for 2020 (SCAP 2020), WRAP has launched new voluntary targets for the UK clothing market, in a bid to help the sector cuts its environmental impact.

The SCAP 2020 targets – which have already received support from 29 signatories, including retail chains Tesco, M&S, and Next – require companies to reduce the quantities of water and carbon used by 15 per cent by 2020 (relative to a 2012 baseline), and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by the same amount by 2020. Further, signatories are required to reduce waste arisings by 3.5 per cent per tonne of clothing by 2020.

According to WRAP, if the targets are met, the UK clothing industry could produce 16,000 tonnes less waste, and save enough water to fill 170,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.

WRAP suggests that signatories could meet these targets through a range of activities, including: exploring the wider use of ‘low-impact fibres’, such as sustainable forms of cotton; extending the life of clothes through reuse; and increasing recycling activities.

Some retailers are already pursuing this, such as with the M&S ‘shwopping’ initiative, which aims to persuade costumers to donate their old clothes for reuse or recycling.

Signatories are also advised to consult the SCAP Footprint Calculator, which helps clothing companies calculate the carbon, water, and waste footprints of their garment portfolios. In addition it helps recyclers and collectors measure the carbon, water, and waste impact for their processes and impact of changing waste destinations.

Love Your Clothes campaign

Aside from looking at the clothing sector, WRAP is also calling on consumers to reduce their environmental footprint when it comes to clothing.

The ‘Love Your Clothes’ campaign, which offically launched today (11 February), has been designed to ‘encourage the public to think about the way they buy, use and discard their clothing’. It follows on from WRAP research that around 30 per cent of clothes bought every year are not worn.

As such, the campaign is calling on consumers to see if any of the unworn clothes in their wardrobes could be donated, reused or recycled. Further, WRAP is inviting consumers to visit the campaign’s website to:

  • find out how to reduce their clothing’s environmental footprint (such as by using laundry methods that use less energy, or by repairing worn clothes);
  • upload their own tips on how to make the most of any clothes bought; and
  • share ideas and advice on what to do with clothes they no longer want or need.

WRAP Chief Executive Liz Goodwin, said: “It’s not just SCAP signatories who have a role to play, UK customers are also key. We spend billions on clothes each year that we are not getting the most out of and that’s bad for our wallets and the environment. By working across the lifestyle and mobilizing industry and consumer action, we can achieve amazing results.”

Goodwin also features in a new video for the campaign, ‘Doing Good Business – tackling the carbon, water and waste impacts of clothes’.

Love Your Clothes in Scotland

The ‘Love Your Clothes’ campaign has also kicked off in Scotland, where former supermodel and head of Edinburgh International Fashion Festival Anna Freemantle joined Scottish sustainable clothes designer Niki Taylor (both pictured above) at Nathan’s Wastesavers’s recycling plant in Denny yesterday (10 February), to demonstrate how clothes can be upcycled.

Speaking ahead of the demonstration, Freemantle commented: “It’s pretty staggering to see that as a nation we have £30 billion worth of clothes we never wear. I have definitely got stuff at the back of my wardrobe that hasn’t seen the light of day in ages, so I’m supporting the Love Your Clothes campaign and will be seeing what I can dig out and pass on, re-fresh or fall in love with all over again.”

Taylor also commented, saying: “The Love your Clothes campaign is something that I am very passionate about. Having worked in the fashion industry for 15 years, you see first-hand how much waste there is. It's also frightening as consumers how disposable clothing has become, creating massive landfill and great harm to the environment and to in some cases the workers… We need to buy responsibly, look after and recycle our clothes.”

The intiative has been welcomed by Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead, who said: “A staggering volume of textiles ends up going in the bin every year – much of this needlessly. By reducing this in line with the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan and being smarter about how we deal with clothing right across its life cycle, we can help the environment, save money and create social value.”

Director of Zero Waste Scotland (and winner of Resource’s Hot 100 list for 2013) Iain Gulland, added: “Our research shows we could be saving a lot of money by being smarter about how we manage our wardrobes. Rediscovering clothes you’d forgotten about can help you buy less or give you something to sell on. If there’s stuff you no longer want, then passing it on to a friend, donating to charity or recycling is a really great way of preventing the millions of pounds worth of clothes that end up in landfill every year.”

Greg McMorris of Nathan’s Wastesavers added that by donating clothes to textile banks rather than disposing of them in the residual waste bin, consumers can help provide clothing for those in need in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe and divert ‘huge amounts of material from going to landfill’.

Although the ‘Love Your Clothes’ campaign is being run by both WRAP and Zero Waste Scotland, it has been announced that from June 2014, Zero Waste Scotland will become independent from WRAP. This follows on from WRAP”s announcement that it is to bid for charity status, to ‘diversify’ its funding base.

Read more about SCAP 2020 or the ‘Love Your Clothes’ campaign.