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Fast fashion encourages Britons to bin £12.5bn of wearable clothes annually - survey

Britons throw away £12.5 billion worth of clothing every year, much of it simply sitting in landfill sites, according to new research. And behind that is a whole story of how modern fast fashion creates a throwaway culture in which consumers accumulate fashion items but don’t value them and, in some cases, don’t even wear them.

UK consumers bin eight items a year on average, each one having an approximate value of £24, which means each person is throwing away £192 worth of fashion items annually. And it seems that more than half of consumers throw away perfectly wearable items rather than passing them onto friends and family, selling them, or donating them to charity stores. The research, from stain removing brand Vanish, spoke to 1,500 adults and is part of its #LoveforLonger campaign designed to encourage people to expand the lifespan of their clothes. It revealed that 29% of people throw away clothes because they’re stained, even though those stains could be treated. But in an indictment of our low price fast fashion culture, 23% of consumers said they don’t try to remove the stain because the clothes were cheap to buy. Additionally, 27% bin clothing items because of a hole that was actually easy to sew up. Other reasons clothing is discarded is to free up wardrobe space (18%), to get rid of clothes that belonged to an ex (10%), and get rid of clothes that feel 'old' after having been worn a handful of times (12%). Some 10% of people throw away clothes after just a few wears, again because they were cheap, while one in 20 throw away items that they simply can’t be bothered to return to the retailer. Interestingly too, 45% of go as far as bagging ip clothes to take to a charity shop, only to throw them away in the end. And 59% of those people said they simply didn’t want the hassle. The Vanish campaign is, obviously, focused on selling more of its stain-removing product, but it does highlight a major issue of the modern fashion sector. The trend for consumers to buy ever cheaper fashion and much more of it means an inevitable accumulation of items in their wardrobes and drawers that will need to be addressed at some point. The research revealed that Britons spend on average £92 a month on new clothes, but typically wear less than half (46%) of their wardrobe. And a new piece of clothing become old in the eyes of consumers after just 20 washes, which on average means just 50 days. Vanish also said that 41% of consumers admitted to never having thought about what happens to their clothes when they throw them out and 37% feel no guilt about throwing clothes away. Only 62% know that they end up in landfill with other rubbish after we have thrown them away. The Vanish campaign also saw it recovering discarded items from landfill sites and removing stains to make them wearable again.

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