New research released today by reGAIN app, a free new application that helps consumers turn unwanted clothes into discount vouchers for leading retailers, shows that despite growing awareness of the importance of recycling and the circular economy, a huge number of people are still throwing unloved items of clothing in the bin.
The survey found that more than one in ten Manchester residents throw their clothes away rather than giving them to charity or to be recycled, whilst in London this figure is as high as 27%.
This is particularly significant as the continuing trend for fast fashion means that a large proportion of people’s wardrobes are at risk of being binned – with 70% of people in Manchester admitting that they no longer wear up to half the items they own.
The study, which surveyed over 2,200 adults from across the UK, found that despite 48% of people in Manchester thinking fast fashion is a bad thing due to the way in which it is produced and its impact on the environment, more than two thirds (68%) buy new clothes at least once a month, with 89% of 16-24 year olds spending an average of up to £200 per month on clothes.
Those items that fall out of favour contribute to the 300,000 tonnes of unwanted clothing going to landfill in the UK every year; the equivalent of 50 trucks’ worth of clothing per day. As much as 95% of the clothes thrown away could have been reworn, recycled or upcycled.
In response to this growing issue, the UK’s first digital solution for recycling unwanted clothing, the reGAIN app, has launched today, marking a significant step forward for the creation of a circular economy in fashion. The majority of respondents said they would use the reGAIN app to get their unwanted clothes re-used and recycled.
“We are realists, not idealists. We know that we can’t stop people from buying clothes, but we can incentivise them to change their habits and divert hundreds of tonnes of clothing from UK landfill. Our goal is a world in which clothes never become waste,” commented Jack Ostrowski, founder of Yellow Octopus, the company behind the reGAIN app.
“The reGAIN app turns commercial sustainability into action and provides a modern solution for fast fashion lovers by rewarding sustainable behaviour. Stopping clothes from going to landfill is the first step towards a circular economy.”
The survey also found that 65% of people in Manchester would recycle more if they were rewarded for doing so; 63% would recycle more if it was free and easy to do so, whilst 52% would recycle more if they knew how much environmental damage sending clothes to landfill causes.
reGAIN app aims to address this issue by raising awareness of the importance of recycling clothing, and by providing a simple and rewarding way for people to recycle more. After downloading the app, users can ship their old clothes, shoes and accessories to reGAIN free of charge from over 20,000 drop-off points across the UK. In return, they will receive a discount coupon so they can shop for less with fashion brands and retailers including Superdry, Asics, New Balance, boohoo and Missguided, as well as lifestyle brands and experiences including Expedia, Hotels.com, EVE Sleep and BodyBuilding.com.
In order to keep the carbon footprint to a minimum, reGAIN app only accepts one drop per week per customer, with a minimum of 10 items in each shipment. Once the clothes reach reGAIN app, they are either reused and reworn, recycled, upcycled, or used as combustibles for energy production.
The launch of the app follows the recent Ellen MacArthur Foundation report, A New Textiles Economy, which found that the fashion industry is the third largest polluter of the planet. High fashion and high street retailers have responded with a number of in-store recycling services and sustainable fashion ranges which are proving popular with consumers.
Ostrowski adds, “The reGAIN app provides consumers with a three-fold ‘Do Good’ scheme: firstly, to do good for their living space through decluttering; secondly, to do good for their wallet, by receiving coupons and shopping for less; and thirdly, doing good for the planet, by diverting clothing from UK landfill. With 49% of people we surveyed planning to do a spring clean of unwanted clothing this month, we hope many of them will consider using reGAIN app to prevent these items from becoming waste.”