TRAID read with interest the latest survey from WRAP about UK citizen’s behaviours in relation to clothes clear-outs during lockdown.

There are some really positive findings. Two in five citizens (41%) cleared their clothes during lockdown with most storing those items at home ready to donate to charities. It also found that more people than ever are concerned about the negative environmental impacts of clothing with an increase from 31% of the population in 2017, to 50% by 2020.

Since TRAID has begun to re-open our charity shops and free home collection service, we are certainly receiving more donations than usual as people finally get the chance to pass on clothes they no longer wear or need. As we emerge from lockdown, WRAP estimates that the UK public is set to pass on 67 million items of clothes, and 22 million pairs of shoes. Peter Maddox, Director at WRAP says: –

“We have been working with organisations from across the sector to prepare for when they reopen and the expected high levels of donations coming in, over a relatively short time period. Everyone can play a role in supporting the charity and textile reuse and recycling sector. Our insights tell us that most people prefer to donate or recycle unwanted clothes, but with an unprecedented volume about to be unleashed it’s important that we all take a few simple steps so not to overwhelm the sector.”

TRAID is confident that by harnessing some of the community solidarity demonstrated over the last few months, and providing clear communications, most people wanting to donate to their favourite charity shop will follow the guidance to prevent wearable clothes ending up in landfill.

For example, dropping off bags of clothes during opening hours rather than leaving them outside; checking that your local TRAID charity shop is open, booking a free home collection service if you have lots of donate or using one of our clothes recycling banks. WRAP has produced useful advice for people through its Love Your Clothes Campaign for anyone wishing to ensure that their clothes find a new home wherever they live.

These small steps will help the charity sector to deal with the expected major influx in clothes donations as we come out of lockdown, items TRAID and other charities with shops urgently need as we start fundraising again for the huge range of local, national and global causes we support.

Significantly for the charity sector, the survey also found that the majority of people – two-thirds – choose to pass on their clothes to charities. This backs up a YouGov survey conducted for TRAID in 2019 to gain insight into the UK public’s use of clothes recycling banks which revealed that 88% preferred to donate clothes to a bank run by a charity, while 84% believed that donating clothes are an important way to support charities.

There is still a lot of work to be done. Most importantly, tackling the source of the problem, the cheap fast fashion which dominates our high streets which encourages unbridled consumption, normalises low quality even disposable clothes, generates growing clothes waste and exploits the environment and workers to keep prices low and production high.

In the meantime, TRAID, and many other charities, educators, organisations and policy makers are working to raise awareness of the impacts of our clothes on people and planet, and what we can do about.