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Environment Minister Gordon Lyons has welcomed the launch of a new campaign to address the problem we face with textile waste. The campaign, run by Environmental Charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and funded by Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA); aims to tackle public behaviour and awareness around textile waste and encourage consumers to never put clothing in the bin.

Welcoming the initiative, Minister Lyons said, “This type of waste is a growing problem, every week in Northern Ireland around 500 tonnes of textile waste is dumped, approximately 27,700 tonnes just since December 2019 alone, with many items having only been worn once or still in perfect condition. What is most concerning is that around 30% of this unwanted clothing and other textiles that are binned each year end up in landfill – that’s around 8,300 tonnes. Sending this waste to landfill means harmful greenhouse gases are emitted causing environmental damage and negatively impacting human health.”

The Minister continued: “It is vital that we continue to protect our environment for future generations and this campaign is a great example of the work that can be done to contribute towards this.”

Forever Fashion, a unique and innovative campaign, urges consumers to never put unwanted clothing in the bin, but rather to consider more environmentally friendly alternatives.

For example -

  • Reuse: One person’s trash is another’s treasure. Donating unwanted items to friends and family or charity shops, or shopping and selling preloved fashion through NI’s growing network of vintage shops or online through sites such Depop and Vinted, is a great way to avoid binning textiles while potentially making some money in the process. It’s also worth remembering that style always comes back around so hanging onto a few choice pieces could be a fashion-forward choice.
  • Repair: Wear and tear doesn’t automatically mean the bin. Simple repairs to clothing like popping on a new button, removing or covering a stain, or mending a hole can prolong their life and bring many months if not years more enjoyment.
  • Reimagine: Reimagine clothing by upcycling unflattering fashion items. Becoming creative with a sewing machine, either at home or engaging with a professional dressmaker, gives pieces that no longer fit a new lease of life.

If an item of clothing or textile is very worn and in an unusable condition, the message remains – never put it in the bin. Instead take this item to your local recycling centre or bring bank when it becomes safe to do so.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, some of the suggested disposal options are not advised under Government restrictions, and as people continue to remain at home, the bin may seem like the easiest, safest option. With this in mind, Live Here Love Here is urging people to hold on to their unwanted items until they can be donated or upcycled.

Siobhan Purnell, Co-ordinator of the Fashion Forever campaign said: “Our Fashion Forever message is simple - never put your unwanted clothing in the bin.

“Remind yourself of the more environmentally-friendly, alternative options – reuse, repair and reimagine. Could someone use this jacket? Can I easily repair this hole? Can I sell this dress online?

“We want people to know that they can still enjoy fashion and shopping, but also that by making one small change and committing to never putting clothes in the bin, they can make a huge difference to our local environment. Remember that fashion can and should be forever.”