Since 1999, TRAID has kept clothes in use for longer. We tackle the problems caused by the fashion industry by working to end clothes waste, reduce production, normalise reuse and increase the market for second-hand – all while funding global projects to improve conditions in the supply chains making our clothes. In Recycling Week 2021, Maria Chenoweth, CEO at TRAID looks back at the charity’s reuse milestones and says charity retail has never been so relevant.
If Recycling Week isn’t the time to pause and reflect on TRAID’s reuse achievements, I don’t know when is. Looking at the data (see infographic below) I’m struck by how much practical action the charity has taken to reduce clothes waste and carbon emissions. I am proud that together, TRAID has made, and continue to makes, such a tangible difference to the environment – and people’s lives.
For example, our work – reuse services including thriving charity shops – has kept over 186 million garments in use for longer. TRAID is a living example of a green circular model. Our very mode of fundraising – keeping clothes in use – triggers powerful socio-environmental benefits from reducing carbon emissions to funding global projects supporting the people and places making our clothes.
This year, Recycling Week aims to raise awareness of what we can (must) do collectively to combat the climate crisis. The scale of the emergency demands that we all become part of local and global movements demanding action, and taking action, on the climate crisis. At TRAID, we act by keeping clothes in use so we don’t have to produce, consume and waste so many garments.
Why? The fashion industry is the fourth most polluting industry in the world. Making clothes produces 3.3. billion tonnes of greenhouse gasses annually – a significant driver of the climate crisis.
In the UK alone, we buy 38 million new garments every week while throwing 11 million garments into the bin. This shows us that hyper-production drives hyper-consumption and hyper-waste. Initiatives like Recycling Week are useful because they remind us that there is so much more we can be doing to reduce our fashion footprint.
One of the places to start is with the UK’s humble charity shops – an underestimated sector responsible for diverting over 327,000 tonnes of textile away from landfill every year, and into reuse and recycling.
Charity shops on our high streets are something to celebrate. They reduce waste significantly, increase the market for second-hand, provide ethical places for communities to pass on items they no longer need or want and provide employment and volunteering opportunities. Crucially, profits raised don’t fund fossil fuels for example, but instead, enable people to support a wealth of incredible causes, from hospices providing end of life care, to fighting poverty to protecting wildlife, the breadth of benefit is incredible.
It is charity shops like TRAID and other fantastic not-for-profits, providing this important, impactful and ethical solution to the clothing crisis, right on your doorstep.
We are living in a climate emergency. With over 11,000 charity shops across the UK, there is no better time or way to dress and shop environmentally. So, let’s step it up when it comes to charity shops. Love them. Donate your wearable clothes to them. Buy your seasonal wardrobe from them.