John Lewis will start buying back old and unwanted clothing in a drive to reduce waste. What do you do with your unwanted or worn-out clothes?
For the first time ever in the UK, a major retailer will take back old and unwanted clothing from its customers and reward them for it.
Customers will return the clothing – including old socks and underwear – via courier using an app and will receive gift cards in return, John Lewis has said.
The move is aimed at reducing the 300,000 tonnes of ‘fashion waste’ that currently goes into UK landfill every year. The cost of landfilling clothing and household textiles is estimated to stand at £82m a year.
Martyn White, John Lewis’s sustainability manager, said the move is an extension of its existing policy for other items:
‘We already take back used sofas, beds and large electrical items such as washing machines and either donate them to charity or reuse and recycle parts and want to offer a service for fashion products.’
Items taken back will either be resold, repaired and re-sold (though not in John Lewis shops) or recycled.
A trial of the scheme has seen John Lewis pay £4 for a pair of broken cashmere gloves bought in 2015, £8 for a pencil skirt bought in 2014 and £11 for a top bought in 2016.
The average UK household owns about £4,000 worth of clothing, a third of which hasn’t been worn for over a year, usually because it doesn’t fit anymore, the company said.
That adds up to about £10bn of unworn clothing clogging up our wardrobes, as Mel Train discussed on Which? Convo earlier in the year.
So could the move increase our closet space, as well as reduce waste?
In our poll, 69 per cent of you said you donated your old clothes to charity, while 17 per cent of you admitted to keeping them in your wardrobe.
I wonder if financial incentives, like those proposed by John Lewis, will encourage more people to clear out their closets – and to return the clothes to the retailer rather than to a charity shop.
Personally, I often end up throwing worn-out clothes directly in the bin (and not even recycling them) and keeping clothes I never wear in my drawers and wardrobe.
This is for a few reasons: I’m not aware of any clothes recycling bins near where I live to chuck the knackered clothes in. And I also presume that charity shops won’t want worn or damaged clothes.
And with clothes that are perfectly fine but I never wear: I’ve been meaning to take them down to a charity shop for ages, but it’s quite far away and I always seem to forget.
So if the app and courier service proposed by John Lewis really make the process faster and easier, I’d probably use it.
What do you think? Would something like this change the way you dispose of unwanted clothing?