How to recycle your clothes on the high street

It’s a truth universally accepted that clear outs are good for the soul (just ask Marie Kondo) – but what should you do with the items you discard?

Whether it’s one broken but beloved pair of jeans or a stack of fast fashion that defies the laws of gravity, we should all be making an effort to recycle our textiles, rather than simply tossing them in the bin. An estimated one billion items of clothing are sent to landfill every year, and the vast majority of them could be repurposed and put to good use.

Back in January 2017, brands including ASOS, Pull & Bear, and Bershka pledged to launch recycling schemes for customers, as part of the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment, which aims to make processes in the fashion industry more sustainable over the next two years.

However, there are several stores on the high street that will recycle your clothes for free already; and some will even reward you with vouchers or loyalty points when you donate…

John Lewis

John Lewis is piloting a buy-back scheme where they will allow customers to return any unwanted clothing bought from its stores over the last five years, in exchange for an e-giftcard to use online. The concept is currently being tested by 100 customers, who are using an app to enter details of the clothing they want to return (which is then collected by a courier when they reach a buy-back value of £50). Anything sent back to the brand will either be resold, mended or recycled – fingers crossed John Lewis roll the idea out to everyone soon!

H&M

Since 2013, H&M has offered shoppers the chance to drop off any textiles – clothing or otherwise – at their stores, and sorted them into rewear, reuse or recycle categories for the next stages of their lives. Since they started, the global brand has gathered more than 55,000 tonnes of garments for recycling – and not only does their scheme benefit the planet, it can benefit your budget, as you get a £5 voucher to spend against your next purchase each time you make a donation.

M&S

M&S is famed for their shwopping scheme, which they run in conjunction with Oxfam. You can put any unwanted clothes (not just those that are from M&S) and put them into one of their ‘Shwop Drop’ in exchange for Sparks points. Alternatively, you can go to an Oxfam store, where you’ll receive a £5 M&S voucher if there’s an M&S item in your drop.

Zara

Zara’s #joinlife programme will help you to ‘extend the lifespan of your clothes’ by letting them donate them to people in need, sell them for social benefits, or reuse and upcycle them into new fibres. They also collaborate on collaborate on research projects to make recycling fabrics beyond cotton, wool or polyester a possibility. However, it’s best to check with your local Zara if they’re part of the scheme, as collection point are only in certain stores at present.

& Other Stories

Not only do & Other Stories take clothes for recycling, they also accept empty containers from their beauty range to be recycled too. In both instances, you’re privy to a 10% off ‘recycling treat’ for your troubles, which is valid for the next three months.