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Clothing Store

Textiles

With the high environmental cost of producing new fabrics and garments, it's more important than ever to reduce textiles waste. 

Did you know that the fashion industry is considered to be the second most  polluting industry in the world?
(Source: United Nations)

The fashion industry creates 100 billion items of clothing each year, that's 14 for each human on the planet. But the average lifetime of a piece of clothing is only 2.2 years, and three in five items of clothing will be discarded within one year. British citizens alone discard a million tonnes of textiles every year. While many clothes are donated to UK charities, around 300,000 tonnes of clothing still ends up in household bins with around 20% of this going to landfill and 80% incinerated every year. 

(Source: Environmental Audit Committee and Vogue)

So how can you help to save valuable materials and bring used ones back into circulation? We have some brilliant solutions right here in Merton and neighbouring boroughs to reuse, repair, recycle and rent clothing and textiles.  

Reuse

Any textiles item still in good condition can be reused, either by donating to a good cause, swapping items with friends, repairing, altering or upcycling what you already have and love, or selling your pre-loved items to get a bit money. You can also make buying second hand your first choice when looking for a new item to play an even bigger part in reducing textiles waste.

To Donate for Reuse:

Preloved Clothing

  • Most high street charity shops will accept donations of clean clothing, shoes, and accessories in good condition. Find your closest charity shops on the Charity Retail Association website, or check out the South London Partnership zero waste map

  • TRAID is a UK charity offering free home collection of quality clothing donations for anyone who lives in or near London. TRADE work to reduce textile waste and improve working conditions in the textile industry.

  • Smart Works is a charity looking for quality, nearly new, interview appropriate clothing to give to women to feel interview ready and confident to secure a new job. Check out their website to see the clothing items they need at the moment. Items can be posted, or dropped off at their Croydon centre.  

  • Merton Council Textiles Collection

    • Curb side collection accepts good quality, clean and dry clothes, linens and shoes on recycling collection days. Check your street's collection days and how to leave your items for collection. 

    • Garth Road Household Reuse and Recycling Centre has clothing and shoe banks for Merton residents to donate good quality clothing and shoes.

 

Underwear

  • Smalls for All accept used bras (including sports bras and nursing bras) that are in a clean, good condition and still have some wear left in them. They distribute the bras to people in need, so they can earn an income from selling the bras.

  • Afreebra Initiative Zabra collect pre-owned and new bras to send to women in need in South Africa, Ghana, and other countries where the need is greatest. Contact afreebra@gmail.com to find out more.

 

Duvets & pillows

  • Some animal shelters may accept used but clean duvets and pillows to keep the animals cosy and warm. Please call and check they can accept them before arriving to donate.

 

Bedding & towels

  • Your local Salvation Army may accept clean, second hand bedding and towels. Please call and check before arriving to donate.

Fabric scraps, buttons, and ribbons

  • Good Fabric: An online sustainable fabric shop based in Wimbledon, accept fabric scraps which they pass on to local schools. Your scraps can be as little as 5x5cm – not big enough to make anything with, but just right to help a child learn about materials or create a collage! Any other arts and crafts materials you have but don’t use would be greatly appreciated, too. Old buttons, bias bindings, ribbons, and thread will all be received with open arms. 

  • Squirrels Community Scrap Scheme: Based in Worcester Park, this scrap scheme allows members to take surplus fabrics and other haberdashery items for textile crafting projects. They may also accept donations of clean fabrics for redistribution. Contact them for more information.

  • Work and Play Scrapstore: Based in Tooting, this scrap store also allows members to take surplus fabrics and other haberdashery items. They may also accept donations of clean fabrics for redistribution. Contact them for more information.

To Sell (or Buy) Reused:

There are a growing number of peer-to-peer selling websites and apps for second hand and vintage clothing, including:

Charity Shops and Second Hand Shops offer a huge array of clothing that's 'new for you'. There are also online charity shops listing preloved clothes. 

  • Oxfam Online Shop allows you to browse hundreds of second hand clothing items, and just like a high street charity shop, your purchases support the charity. 

  • Thrift+ invites you to send your preloved clothing items to them through the post to resell. When items are bought, the buyer can select their favourite charity for proceeds to go to. 

Clothes Swaps for Reuse:

 Arrange a clothes swap amongst your friends, or try out an larger clothes swap event.

  • SwopItUp works with schools to empower young people to arranage their own swapping events. 

  • Nuw is a clothes swapping app, which is perfect if you can't make it to an in-person event. Upload pics of your preloved clothes and browse thousands of new to you items available.

Upcycling for Reuse:

Local business Little A.R.K may accept clean bed linens, blankets and curtains for their community textiles waste reduction projects. They have limited storage for donated textiles so please contact thelittleark20@gmail.com to check with them before you donate.

Repair

Repairing a favourite item of clothing that has become damaged, or altering clothing to fit better can save money and resources. 

Learn to co-fix damaged, ripped and holey textiles with more experienced fixers at a Repair Cafe near you. You can find a list of The Wheel's upcoming repair events here.   

 

There are lots of small local businesses that offer clothing repair, tailoring and alteration services in Merton and the surrounding area. Many dry cleaners offer these services. Check out the South London Partnership zero waste map. to find clothing repair services near you. 

Some nearby clothing repair shops include:

Quality Stitch, Wimbledon

Ana Bela's, Tooting Market

The Seam is a website that connects people with skilled, local, specialist makers to repair or alter your clothing, bags, jewellery and shoes.

Shoes can also be repaired by local cobblers. There are two Timpson stores in Merton, find your nearest one here.

Recycle

For textiles items that are old, irreparable and at the end of their life, it is often difficult to recycle in the truest sense of the word. This is because our clothing is made up of lots of different materials combined (cotton, polyester, acrylic,) and it is hard to separate these materials again. This means that clothing often can't be recycled to make other items of clothing, but it can be downcycled to create composite materials such as insulation, stuffing for mattresses or car seats, and carpets. Clothing that is advertised as being made from recycled materials is often made from recycled plastic bottles.

Here's some guidance on recycling textiles items that we get asked about the most.

 

Merton Council Textiles Collection

  • Curb side collection - While this collection is often referred to as textiles recycling collection, this collection is for good quality clothing, linen and shoes only for the purpose of rewearing, not recycling.

  • Garth Road Household Reuse and Recycling Centre has clothing and shoe banks for Merton residents to donate good quality clothing and shoes. These clothing banks are for the purpose of rewearing the items, not recycling. 

Clothing Take-Back Schemes   

  • Many high street fast fashion brands advertise take-back recycling schemes, often in partnerships with charity shop retailers. There will often be rewards schemes linked to the take-back offer. Sadly, we cannot recommend these schemes as a sustainable method of clothing recycling as there has been evidence that many good quality clothes donated to these schemes end their journey being downcycled, or in overseas landfill. This appears to be an example of greenwashing by fast fashion brands.  

Home Textiles Take-Back Schemes

  • Dunelm operate a textiles take back recycling scheme in a selection of their stores and accept all clean home textiles including duvets, pillows, bed linen, towels, curtains, cushion covers, cushion inners and bedding protection.

Charity Recycling Schemes

  • Against Breast Cancer work with recycling partners for their textiles recovery project. They collect used bras to pass recovered fabrics on to small business in Togo, Ghana and Kenya, where bras remain expensive to produce locally. The charity receives funds for the collection of the materials, which funds breast cancer research. 

Rent

Buying less and renting more helps to build our circular economy. Renting and sharing clothes, rather than buying new items for yourself, can save you money, storage space and prevent lots of textiles waste. There are many clothing rental services, with new ones popping up all the time. Here are just a few examples:

Qookeee:

 Why buy clothes that your little one will outgrow in a matter of months? To rent baby clothes, check out this local online business.

Swished:

For a special occasion or event, you can rent an outfit for a fraction of the retail price from Swished. You can also list your own items to lend out, making this peer-to-peer rental. 

Moss:

If you're in need of a suit for a special occasion, high street tailors Moss offer many styles for hire.

Paper Recycling Bin

Which type of waste will you reduce next?

So many types of materials can be recirculated to save energy, resources, and money, reducing carbon emissions along the way. Explore how you can reduce waste from furniture, tech and electricals, food, packaging and construction.

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