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Published
May 5, 2022
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Britons not thinking of sustainability when fashion shopping, but they do recycle

Published
May 5, 2022

More consumers may be thinking sustainably when they make their fashion choices, but over half of them in the UK still don’t have sustainability front of mind when in-store or online.


Photo: Pixabay/Public domain



A poll of 2,000 UK adults by French firm Damart has shown that 55% leave sustainability behind when shopping. And they’re clearly buying some items without thinking carefully about them because UK residents have an average of nine pieces of unworn clothing taking up space in their wardrobes.

That’s something they may need to think more carefully about in future given surging inflation.

In the research, UK adults were found to be spending an average of £415.18 per year on new clothes and there's clearly a risk that this might fall if other bills are prioritised in an inflationary environment where wage growth is lagging price rises.

Back with eco-consciousness — or lack of it — despite the introduction of many incentive-led, in-store recycling schemes by fashion retailers in recent years, 'only' 50% of Britons have ever made use of one of these. That may be well short of total awareness, but it’s a pretty big number so could be seen as a plus point when looked at from one angle.

And consumers do think about eco issues in relation to their clothes in other aspects of the lives once they’ve bought items. The research showed that 91% regularly donate their unwanted clothing to charity, making it the most popular way for people to get rid of their old clothes.

And 28% donate items as often as every three months, while almost half (48%) donate clothes to charity every six months. 

The also data showed that 79% of UK consumers claim to recycle their old clothing via their local recycling banks, with 38% doing so at least once every six months.

Similarly, 72% are donating clothing to friends and family, with half of those who do so giving items away on a regular basis (at least every six months). 

Consumers are getting into resale too with 54% having sold their clothing items online via sites such eBay or Depop. However, this was a fairly infrequent thing for most people (every six-to-12 months).

In fact, as the number of unused items hanging in wardrobes illustrates, some 72% of people admit to holding on to items they no longer wear.

Damart also found that Norwich has the most sustainability-focused population in the UK, scoring 69 out of 100 for making sustainable fashion choice this year.

It’s followed by Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle, Newport, Leicester, Southampton, Oxford, Belfast, Plymouth and Coventry.

At the very bottom of the list is Nottingham on a score of 25, with Swansea, Bradford, Milton Keynes, Liverpool and Aberdeen also scoring poorly.

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