Recycling, upcycling and buying new: How to balance fast fashion with ethics

As the trend of fast fashion continues to rise, ITV News looks into how we all can ethically dispose of clothes in a bid to avoid our old t-shirts, jumpers, dresses and trousers ending up in a landfill site on the other side of the world.

Tim Hunt from Ethical Consumer tells ITV News what you can do to be more meaningful and ethical when purchasing and disposing of clothes.

Fewer new clothes

Buying better quality new clothes and second hand items, this can offset serious carbon and other environmental impacts.

It can also reduce the quantity of clothes we buy as a way to reduce this impact.

Clothing must be designed for reuse and adaptation and the infrastructure for collection needs to be put in place.

Buying better quality new clothes is recommended. Credit: PA

Give unwanted clothes to charity shops or resell them

Allowing your clothes to be reused again, through donating to charity or reselling on Gumtree or eBay, ensures that they receive the maximum wear.

Repair your clothes

There are plenty of tailors who can fix up your clothes and even some retailers who offer this service as part of the cost.

Volunteers sort clothes for migrants at a charity warehouse. Credit: PA


This is a bit of trend at the moment and there are some good projects working to help people, for instance, Stitched Up based in Manchester.

Only wash when necessary

You can make your clothes last longer by reducing the temperature that you wash them at and the number of times you wash them.

Jeans, for instance, only need to be washed every couple of months.

Jeans only need to be washed every couple of months. Credit: AP

Clothes swaps

There are loads of events around the country where you can swap your clothes with other people that have unwanted garments.

Buy from companies that offer take back

Teemill/rapanui is an example of a company that will take back your unwanted cotton t-shirts and recycle them.

  • ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi explains how to make more sustainable choices:

Buy natural materials

Buy materials that only contain one fabric - this means they can be recycled more easily.

It is best to also look for 100% organic cotton as there are many problems associated with cotton production including workers facing forced labour and the widespread use of toxic chemicals.

Buy from ethical shops

Buy from shops that are more ethical and support the livelihood of the person who made your clothes.

What to avoid when buying clothes:

Avoid fur or leather

More than one million animals are killed every year for their fur, and leather has a high cost in terms of the environment and animal rights.

Concerns have also recently been raised about clothing made from synthetic materials, including fleece materials which can release microplastic particles into the oceans when washed.

Campaigners are targeting viscose clothing, which may also be labelled as rayon or bamboo because it has a higher polluting manufacturing process.

Cleaner viscose will be labelled as lyocell, Tencel or Monocel.