Bored with your clothes?

June 27, 2012, 2:50 PM GMT+0

71% UK shoppers have binned clothes in past year, finds poll, as M&S recycle campaign continues

Almost three quarters of UK adults have thrown clothes away at some point in the past year, with 'it no longer fits me', 'I'm bored of wearing it', 'it has become unfashionable' and 'I bought it on impulse' cited as some of the most common reasons for doing so, our poll of 2,200 UK consumers for retail giant Marks & Spencer has found. One sixth of people said they had thrown away an item of clothing after wearing it just once in the past year.

Only 4% of people said that they would never throw away a piece of clothing – in fact, the poll also showed that one in five people estimate that they own over 100 garments (excluding underwear or accessories).

  • When we asked UK adults (who had ever thrown away clothes) how many items they had thrown out in the past year, just 26% said they hadn't thrown anything out, and 3% weren't sure, leaving 71% who have thrown at least one item out in the past 12 months
  • 16% of consumers (who've ever thrown clothes away) say they have worn something only once before discarding it
  • 70% said they'd thrown clothes away because 'it no longer fits me'
  • 22% said they were 'bored of wearing it'
  • 20% were concerned that it 'was no longer fashionable'
  • And 10% said it was because they'd bought the discarded item 'on impulse in a sale'

Many 'thrown-out-after-one-wear' clothes tend to cost under £20, the poll suggests.

  • 44% said £20 and under was the value of the garment they chucked after wearing it just once
  • 27% said £21-30, and 12% said £31 to £40
  • A perhaps more frivolous 1% had thrown out an item costing between £101 and £150 after only wearing it once

Limiting landfill

Marks and Spencer estimates that around £90m worth of clothing is thrown away every year by consumers who have only worn the item once – all going straight to landfill. To combat this problem the famous British store has recently launched 'shwopping', an initiative designed to raise awareness of clothes recycling, and encourage shoppers to give up unwanted clothes to better causes than the rubbish heap.

Announcing that it has already collected 500,000 used and unwanted items for recycling or reuse since starting its shwopping initiative began in April, M&S is aiming to reach a million items by the end of this month (June 2012) and, ultimately, collect 350 million items a year – recycling as many clothes as it sells new.

'Helping the world's poorest'

Actress and campaigner Joanna Lumley, who is the face of M&S' shwopping campaign (left), said she was "thrilled" by the results so far.

"We set out to change the way people shop and put an end to clothes going into landfill," she said.

"We're determined to give every item of clothing a future and help some of the world's poorest people in the process. So this weekend, dig out that old t-shirt you haven't worn for years and give it a new lease of life."

See the survey details and full results here

An M&S campaign, in which the stores provide 'bins' for customers to drop unwanted clothes (even if they're not from M&S), 'Shwopping' sees the company working 'with Oxfam to resell, reuse or recycle it, and help support people living in poverty'.