Are you looking at that pile of clothes you’re planning to get rid of? Will this pile be dropped off at the charity shop/sold on eBay/given to a friend or…will it be stared at for a few more weeks, haunting you? How about getting a new fitness kit?
It may seem odd that I want to talk about the virtues of new gear alongside decluttering, but sustainable sportswear company BAM clothing is the official partner of a charity called Sharewear, which focuses on clothing poverty in the UK. In 2020, they co-launched the #noWeartoRun campaign, through which BAM offers customers the option to request a postage-paid Sharewear recycling bag when ordering. You can then send up to 5kg of clothing back to charity – with a bonus £5 off your next BAM purchase.
Louise Cooke, founder and chief executive of Sharewear, reveals that donations have been badly affected by self-isolation. “This is our quietest January level of donations on record and yet we are supporting 50% more people than this time last year,” she says. “There is a very real link between poor mental health and clothing poverty. Free outdoor activities in your neighborhood are not accessible to people who cannot afford even the most basic clothing for a walk or run.
All that’s asked of us, as donors, is a moment of quiet passing through that drawer that’s hiding pieces you haven’t worn since pre-Covid. Then a trip to the post office and the price of sending a package, which will likely be the same cost as the two coffees and a slice of cake your new fitness regimen doesn’t need.
One way to reduce excessive amounts of unworn clothes would be to simply forego shopping. I know many people have done or are trying to do this as a resolution. But if you’re not that person (I’m not) and you keep shopping, the difference you can make is to pass the unwanted items on to charities like Sharewear. Items must be in good condition. Cooke says: “If you don’t wear it yourself or see a family member in it, we won’t use it.” Simple.
I often get asked about shoe donations, especially children’s shoes. I send them to Sal’s Shoes. This is a great charity that not only finds a good home for your shoes, but also tracks their journey. My daughter donated a pair of sneakers and, through the power of Instagram, got to see her shoes loved again. It was a natural way for my kids to learn how lucky they were. They were interested. They asked questions. The cost to me? A quick cleaning of the shoes so they don’t get too tired, a £1 donation per pair to Sal’s Shoes (via Paypal) and Royal Mail charges for sending the shoes, tracked, to the charity on the Kent.
Most of my sportswear is now carefully checked for fabrics. The best find recently has been this blue BAM jacket, made from recycled fabric and, best of all, 100% recyclable. “Put simply, recycled fabric delays landfill, while recyclable prevents landfill,” says Merryn Chilcott, technical and sustainability manager at BAM. “BAM is committed to taking responsibility for the end of life of its garments. Zero should go to the landfill.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative, 73% of all clothing ends up in landfill or incineration, so we need to embrace the ability to make clothing recyclable. We can do this through the fabrics we wear and by passing on unwanted objects that can enjoy a new life elsewhere.