The shocking facts about textile waste
The average consumer buys 60% more items of clothing per year than they did 15 years ago.
Clothing production emits more greenhouse gases than shipping and aviation combined.
In HK, 4 out of 10 people have thrown away an item of clothing after wearing it only once.
In 2018, 196 tonnes of clothing ended up in HK landfills everyday.
Ways to reduce your textile waste
Before you buy it…
Make sure you only buy what you love and need. Good value or on sale should not be the main reason for making a new purchase.
Take good care of them
Just like how you take care of your loved ones, you should take care of your clothes too! Read the clothing care label carefully before washing or drying them to see how you can avoid ruining the fabric. Here is a quick tutorial on understanding the labels.
Don’t give up on them easily
When there is a stain or a tear, check if it is fixable before throwing it away. Approach a professional or search online for tricks if you don’t know what to do. It will both save you money and be better for the environment!
Giving your clothes a second life
Clothes Swapping Parties
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There are online and offline clothes swapping events in Hong Kong that allows you to share your fashion items with others. Try attending one and give your clothes a second life!
If you are interested in donating your clothes to those in need, here are a few options:
Impact HK is a charity that aims at providing comfortable living conditions for homeless people in Hong Kong and helps them connect with society. Their Guestroom, located in Tai Kok Tsui, provides food, clothes, accommodation, laundry, or even haircut services to those in need. Monetary donations are always welcome, but you could always help by donating items they need, from clothes to furniture. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if your items would be of use.
The Salvation Army is an international Christian church and charity working in 131 countries and has been serving Hong Kong since 1930. They dedicate their support for people in need ranging from disadvantaged elders to marginalized minorities. They welcome both organization and personal donations of clothing and goods. To find out more about items they accept and where to donate, please check out their webpage here for more details.
Recycling your textiles
Recycling through retailer’s collection boxes
H&M will take any textile you have, regardless of their conditions or their brands. It means you can donate t-shirts, that odd socks, or even old curtains and rugs. As a reward, you will receive an H&M voucher for your next purchase. To participate, just drop your garment at checkout in any H&M stores. Brands like ZARA and Monki also provide such services.
Recycling through the Community Used Clothes Recycling Bank Scheme
The Community Used Clothes Recycling Bank Scheme is a tripartite partnership among the non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Government, and the District Councils. Participating NGOs is in charge of operating, maintaining, and collecting clothes regularly from the recycling banks. The recycling banks are all over in Hong Kong. Before you go, check in the list below on the textiles they accept, bring your unwanted clothes there, and throw them in. It’s that simple! Click here to see the list of locations for the collection boxes.
- Accepted Items: Clean clothing (both new or used are acceptable), footwear, handbags and bags, accessories (e.g. scarfs), dolls in good condition
- Non-Accepted Items: Worn-out or broken clothing, uniforms, curtains, used bed mattresses or bedding, used intimate clothing (e.g. underwear, socks or towels), fur products
How are collected garments sorted and reused?
The garment collected will be sorted into three categories: re-wearables, reusables, and recyclables. Clothes that could be worn again would be distributed to local charities or second-hand stores as second-hand goods. If the condition of the garment is not suitable for wearing, they could be remade into different products, like a tote bag. The rest of the textiles will be shredded into textile fibers or yarns, which will then be used in other industries or to make new clothes.
Upcycling your garments
If you are consider yourself creative or crafty, try upcycling your unwanted clothes or textiles into something new. There’s a trend called ‘thrift flip’ where people alter thrift store clothing into trendy unique items. There are also a lot of online tutorials that show you how to upcycle clothes into something new and useable such as masks, pillow covers, pets clothes, bags or even a rug. It’s fun and your creations might even end up looking better than the original! Why not invite some friends and organise an upcycling party?
There are more and more opportunities to buy items made out of unwanted materials. Check out St James Settlement
The monthly Handmade Hong Kong markets is a great place to find upcycled items for sale.