Bag to Bin: North East initiatives hoping to reduce our 'fashion foot'

Fashion shouldn't cost the earth, yet after housing, food & transport, the clothing industry has the largest environmental impact in the UK.

With customer demand for cheap, on-trend clothing on the rise, so too is the pressure for the industry to curb the environmental damage of 'fast fashion'.

We've been to meet the people behind some of the North East initiatives hoping to reduce our region's 'fashion footprint'.


Credit: ITV Graphics Hub
Credit: ITV Graphics Hub
Credit: ITV Graphics Hub
Credit: ITV Graphics Hub

How can I reduce my 'Fashion Footprint'?

  • In-store recycling

A number of high street stores are joining the campaign against 300,000 tonnes of textile waste that are sent to landfill and incinerators in the UK every year, by introducing 'take back' schemes.

The idea is simple, people can return their unwanted items to the shop they bought them from, to be recycled correctly. In return, they are given an in-store voucher.

M&S teamed up with the charity Oxfam, to offer their customers a more environmentally friendly way of getting rid of their unwanted items of clothing. The partnership encourages customers to recycle their garments instead of throwing them away. By donating an item of M&S clothing or soft furnishings to Oxfam, you'll receive a voucher for £5 off when you spend £35.

Since 2013, H&M have had collection points in their shops all over the world. Customers can donate bags of clothes to be recycled, in return for an in-store voucher.

Most recently, the high street giant Primark has jumped on the environmentally friendly bandwagon, introducing an in-store recycling system in 2019.

  • Buy from Charity shops

Charity shops are a long established staple of the British high street. Making a name for themselves as a treasure chest of second-hand items, it is no surprise that buying clothing from charity shops is far more sustainable.

The message often given is to 'buy less buy better'. Charity shops often house designer and branded items of clothing which are better quality products, made using sustainably sourced materials.

You'll also be helping out very worth charitable causes as you indulge in retail therapy.

Hirestreet, the Newcastle rental company encouraging us to try, instead of buy. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
  • Try instead of buy

As our report highlighted, there has been a boom in the clothing rental market. Environmentally conscious customers are driving demand for better quality outfits to be made available for hire.

The trade was once reserved for the hire of wedding suits and special occasion attire, but modern shoppers are beginning to make better choices when it comes to keeping up with fashion.

The boom has seen a rise in the number of clothing rental websites. Hirestreet, the company featured in our ITV Tyne Tees report, saw an 800% in sales in the last six-months alone.

Trends show that consumers are starting to opt to hire an outfit for a fraction of the cost, both to our purse, and the environment.