Northern Ireland is a nation of fashion-conscious, style mavens but when it comes to the environment, we overconsume and underuse our clothing, with
approximately 533 tonnes of clothing thrown out every single week.
Environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has launched a new campaign, in collaboration with Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), to tackle public behaviour and awareness around textile waste and encourage consumers to never put clothing in the bin.
Over the last 12 months, Northern Ireland has disposed of approximately 27,700 tonnes of textiles – over half the weight of our much-loved Titanic ship – with many of these items still in perfect condition.
Most-concerningly, around 30% of the unwanted clothing and other textiles that are binned each year, approximately 8,300 tonnes, end up in landfill.*
Landfills are a costly burden for ratepayers but they also emit greenhouse gases which are harmful to the environment, and create other dangerous pollutants that negatively affect the health of those living nearby.
Furthermore, Northern Ireland’s landfills are in a vulnerable position, becoming closer and closer to full capacity, and as a result of this social issue, Live Here Love Here, a partnership between DAERA, Local Councils, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, has launched its inaugural Fashion Forever campaign.
Forever Fashion urges consumers to never put their unwanted clothing in the bin and to consider more environmentally friendly alternatives when disposing of textiles.
Some of these options include:
Reuse: One person’s trash is another’s treasure. Donating unwanted items to friends and family or charity shops, or shopping and selling preloved fashion through NI’s growing network of vintage shops or online through sites such Depop and Vinted, is a great way to avoid binning textiles while potentially making some money in the process. It’s also worth remembering that style always comes back around so hanging onto a few choice pieces could be a fashion-forward choice.
Repair: Wear and tear doesn’t automatically mean the bin. Simple repairs to clothing like popping on a new button, removing or covering a stain, or mending a hole can prolong their life and bring many months if not years more enjoyment.
Reimagine: Reimagine clothing by upcycling unflattering fashion items. Becoming creative with a sewing machine, either at home or engaging with a professional dressmaker, gives pieces that no longer fit a new lease of life.
If an item of clothing or textile is very worn and in an unusable condition, the message remains – never put it in the bin. Instead take this item to your local recycling centre when it becomes safe to do so.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, some of the suggested disposal options are not advised under Government restrictions, and as people continue to remain at home, the bin may seem like the easiest, safest option. With this in mind, Live Here Love Here is urging people to hold on to their unwanted items until they can be donated or upcycled.
Siobhan Purnell, Co-ordinator of the Fashion Forever campaign said: “Our Fashion Forever message is simple – never put your unwanted clothing in the bin.
“Remind yourself of the more environmentally-friendly, alternative options – reuse, repair and reimagine. Could someone use this jacket? Can I easily repair this hole? Can I sell this dress online?
“Fast and disposable fashion through its price and fast delivery propositioning makes it easy for people, particularly the younger generation, to buy lots of clothes. Buying lots of clothes perpetuates disposal and therefore there is an escalating trend of binning textiles.
“We want people to know that they can still enjoy fashion and shopping, but also that by making one small change and committing to never putting clothes in the bin, they can make a huge difference to our local environment. Remember that fashion can and should be forever.”
Welcoming the initiative, Environment Minister, Gordon Lyons added: “It is vital that we continue to protect our environment for future generations and this campaign is a great example of the work that can be done to contribute towards this.
“Textile waste is a growing problem, every week in Northern Ireland around 500 tonnes of textile waste is dumped, approximately 27,700 tonnes just since December 2019 alone, with many items having only been worn once or still in perfect condition.
“What is most concerning is that around 30% of this unwanted clothing ends up in landfill and sending this waste to landfill means harmful greenhouse gases are omitted causing environmental damage and negatively impacting human health.”
To find out more about Live Here Love Here’s Fashion Forever campaign visit @FashionForeverNI on Instagram or liveherelovehere.org
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