Sundried recently ran a poll asking the public where they think their old clothing ends up when they throw it out. Is this something you've ever thought about? 25% of respondents admitted they've never thought about it. Here's what really happens to your old clothes when you throw them out.
What really happens to donated clothes?
According to the BBC, in the UK alone we throw out over a million tonnes of clothing every year. That's a lot of waste! We may not think of clothing as waste, but it ends up in landfill just like all the other rubbish we throw out and sits there for hundreds of years, contributing to the global pollution crisis. Understandably, a lot of people decide to donate their clothes to charity shops or clothes banks in order to prevent this waste and in the hopes their old clothes could potentially help the less fortunate. But what really happens to donated clothes?
British charity WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) estimates that over 70% of donated clothes worldwide get exported overseas in an expensive and polluting second-hand garment trade . According to figures released by the UN, Britain is the second largest exporter of second-hand clothing, after the USA. The UK exports over 351,000 tons of old clothes – with an export value of £380m – to countries like Poland, Pakistan, and Ghana.
What once started as donations end up as tradable goods.
Do clothes get recycled?
Textile and garment recycling is hugely on the rise as global interest in environmental consciousness increases. Clothes that are thrown out by everyday people become what is known as 'post-consumer' and these post-consumer textiles can have a huge value to those who know what to do with them.
When you throw out your clothing to be recycled, it will either be reusable or not reusable, depending on the condition it is in. If it is still in a wearable condition, it might be sold on to third world countries as outlined above. If it is in bad condition – ripped, stained, or otherwise damaged – it will be sorted into rags, scraps, and fibrous material which can be recycled, sometimes into new clothing.
Clothing that is sent to be recycled gets collected from the donation bins or shops and is processed at dedicated facilities. At these processing facilities, the recycled clothes are shredded, treated and then re-purposed. The material can be used for acoustic dampening materials, carpet padding, insulation, or turned into rags for the automobile industry.
Because the recycling process stretches and weakens the fibers, only a small percentage of post-consumer polyester can be used to make new clothing. H&M’s sustainability report for 2016 showed that only 0.7 percent of their fabrics were created from recycled materials.
Old clothing is processed and turned into padding, insulation, and rags. Only a tiny percentage is turned into new clothing.
How can you be more environmentally friendly?
One of the best ways to be environmentally friendly is not to buy too many new clothes each year and wear what you do own as much as possible before throwing it out. Avoid buying very cheap clothing as this is more likely to be mass-produced and poor quality, therefore lasting less time and being thrown out more readily. If you spend a little more on quality clothing, you're more likely to care for it and want to get as many wears out of it as possible.
At Sundried, all of our activewear is made with longevity in mind so that it can last as long as possible. Our clothing will retain its colour and shape wash after wash, wear after wear, so that you can keep it for years.
Sundried also has a range of biodegradable t-shirts which biodegrade in 3 short years when exposed to the anaerobic environment of landfill. This means that once you do throw out your t-shirt, you can be safe in the knowledge that it won't be polluting the planet for hundreds of years.
These fitness tops by Sundried are biodegradable
Another way to be more environmentally friendly is to buy clothing made from recycled raw materials like plastic bottles or coffee grounds. At Sundried, we offer two collections made from recycled materials which help to reduce waste and clean up the planet. Our Eco Core range is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and the innovative fabric dries 200 times faster than cotton, meaning the wearer can stay dry and comfortable even during a sweaty workout. The fabric is also super soft and kind to the skin, making it perfect for activewear.
So next time you're thinking of buying new activewear, why not go for the eco-friendly choices and see how it can benefit you?
It is now easier than ever to choose fair trade, sustainable clothing instead of opting for cheap, fast fashion which is bad for both the environment and the people in the production chain. We take a closer look at the best eco friendly products when buying sustainable clothing.
Biodegradable Fitness Tops
The t-shirt in the photo above looks pretty unremarkable, doesn't it? A quality white t-shirt which is stretchy, comfortable, and features performance technology such as sweat wicking and anti odour. Well, that's not so hard to find, right? What if I told you that the t-shirt in the photo is actually biodegradable, and instead of laying in landfill for the next century, it would decompose naturally in three short years? Pretty incredible!
The t-shirt in question is the Eco Tech women's fitness top by Sundried and is made from the world's first biodegradable polyamide yarn. In a world of fast fashion, we rarely think about where our clothes end up once we throw them out. Do they get recycled? Do they get given to the homeless? Not really. In fact, 85% of textil waste ends up in landfill where it will stay for hundreds of years, taking up space and hurting the environment.
Instead, why not invest in a technical, performance-enhance biodegradable fitness t-shirt such as the Sundried Eco Tech women's fitness top? It features some of the world's best performance qualities so is perfect for running, cycling, yoga, Pilates, gym workouts, and all number of sports.
Bamboo is a natural, organic raw material which is sustainable and perfect for clothing as well as accessories like gloves. Bamboo is an eco-friendly replacement for plastic as it is renewable and can be replenished quickly. Bamboo grows extremely quickly – some species up to a metre a day! – which means it's perfect for harvesting at high rates for turning into textiles and is easily renewable. When it comes to greenhouse emissions, bamboo minimises CO2 and generates up to 35% more oxygen than equivalent stands of trees.
There are now lots of different brands and companies who use bamboo as a raw material for their textiles, including Sundried. It has many advantages over cotton and hopefully will be used more widely as time goes on.
Organic workout clothes
When you think organic, chances are you think about food. Organic food is not treated with pesticides and organic meat, dairy and poultry comes from animals which have not been given growth hormones or antibiotics.
Organic textiles are clothing made from materials raised in or grown in compliance with organic agricultural standards. Organic clothing may be composed of materials like cotton or jute. Sundried's yoga mat is made from organic jute fibre which is a vegetable fibre similar to hemp or flax. Jute is one of the most affordable natural fibres, second only to cotton in the amount produced and variety of uses. This means it is an excellent choice for textiles and products like the Sundried yoga mat as well as products like yoga clothes.
Sophie Kennedy is a Personal Trainer and Gym Manager with pre and postnatal qualifications. She loves endurance events having competed in numerous triathlon, marathon and ultra events. Sophie tells us about the Sundried products she couldn't live without right now.
Sundried Solaro Women's Leggings
I have never owned a pair of leggings that feel as amazing as these and give such a wonderful flattering shape. I bought these high waisted leggings having recently had a child and I feel supported and confident in them. The material and shape ensure there is no rubbing and they stay exactly where they should be through all exercise. Complete freedom of movement for full body gym workouts, dynamic movements, running, yoga and climbing. The quality can't be ignored; these leggings will last you a lifetime. If you are looking for comfort, flexibility, durability and a product with the planet in mind, these leggings are for you.
Sundried Women's Knit Shoes
These are hands down the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned. Their smart look means I can wear them for walking with the pram in casual wear or out running geared up in other Sundried attire. They are so easy to slip on and off whilst feeling totally secure. These shoes are a perfect all-rounder: light on my feet, durable, breathable, attractive, and ideal for indoors, outdoors, casual wear and sport-specific.
My other go-to ethical products
The most sustainable way to shop is to not shop at all. I don't buy unnecessary products and now all my sportswear is bought from Sundried. I love the range, which is always growing, and it makes for less guilty shopping.
The same goes for energy gels, drinks and snacks. I make my own to reduce packaging, shipping, energy demands through manufacturing and also cost to me. Plant-based whole-food fuel is better for me and the environment.
About the author: Sophie Kennedy is a Sundried ambassador.
What better way is there to spend your Sunday lunchtime encased in a world of pain for an hour or more?
To be honest, other than Yorkshire puddings and roasties, I'm sure you'll agree not much beats a Sprint Triathlon (right?)
Southend-on-Sea provided a great location for the first Sundried Triathlon. The town really welcomed the event and a whopping 2500 people came out to support the 300 athletes, many of whom were competing in their first triathlon.
The swim took place in the Thames Estuary with a refreshing midday start, due to the tide times. 1 hour before the start all we could see was mud flats for miles. I'm familiar with a non-wetsuit swim, but a non-water swim? That would be a first.
There was no need to worry. A mini tsunami came in as scheduled and the bay rapidly filled with clean salt water. We flip-flopped our way 500m along the sea front to the start, (flip-flops were then deposited back at the start for us), and the swim was simply point-to-point parallel with the beach: great for nervous swimmers who didn't have to venture far out their depth, and nice for spectators who could walk along and see the race unfold.
After failing to hold the fast feet of the lead man who set off beside me, I found another set, then decided to have a go on my own and make it hurt. The speed that is easy in a draft becomes really hard when in front, and I probably should have stayed where I was, but as this was a training race there was no need for energy conservation!
A smooth transition and we were quickly on to the fast, flat but quite technical bike course. The organisers are talking about a closed-road multi-lap affair for next year which I think would really draw the crowds in further and give it the buzz of a French Grand Prix tri: something the UK scene could really benefit from. I lost one place to another fast boy through the 20km bike leg, finishing up that bit in 4th; feeling rather power-deprived throughout. Some days you're the firework, some, the damp squib.
The run was out and back along the sea-front where people out for their Sunday stroll probably wondered why all these lycra-loving lovelies were self-flagellating themselves upon this Day of Rest, but they were giving great words of encouragement and seemed really into the spirit of the event: Southend seems to be a perfect match for a triathlon.
So, back to the run. 2.5k in a straight line does seem a long way, and to turn around and repeat the feat was another painful prospect, especially when you could see the Sundried finish banner over a mile away in the distance, not getting any closer...
Coming into a shorter triathlon as a longer distance athlete, you have visions of it 'being over quickly' and being 'no big deal' but I tell you what, Sprint is long and Sprint is hard! And I could only seem to muster limited speed anyway, but it was hurting as much as I could make it, so will hopefully prove an excellent training session as part of my preparation for the European 70.3 champs in 3 weeks’ time.
Coming to the finish, I didn't have much time to celebrate the female win and 3rd place overall as I was very aware of the clock ticking close to 60 minutes, and I always enjoy dipping under an hour in a Sprint. Sadly, I was 25 seconds too fat, but this will come in the next few weeks as I start to sharpen up for my first peak of the season. A couple of kilos makes a lot of difference to speed!
I would like to thank Sundried for their support of me as a pro triathlete this year, providing great PR opportunities as well as beautifully crafted clothing, and now adding another string to their bow: by producing a fantastic first event. Sundried really does stand for quality through and through. I look forward to seeing how the Southend Triathlon develops in years to come, and will definitely be back for that sub 1 hour in the future!
About the author: Alice Hector is a prolific elite professional triathlete, having already won the Volcano Triathlon in Lanzarote earlier this year. She is also a professional fitness model and has done lots of work with Sundried as an athlete ambassador.
Blue Planet II is arguably the most popular show on British television, racking up 17 million viewers in 2017 and beating both the X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing in the ratings war. What better medium, then, to teach the nation about the critical problem our planet faces when it comes to plastic pollution. The program showed how plastic is polluting our oceans and affecting our wildlife. It was so harrowing in fact that environment secretary Michael Gove said he was 'haunted' by it and has come up with an action plan to promote wider recycling and reduce waste.
You may be shocked to learn that less than 50% of the 480 billion plastic bottles sold in 2016 were collected for recycling. This means that in excess of 240 billion plastic bottles became plastic waste and began polluting our already fragile ecosystem. This is a global problem on an enormous scale and is causing irreversible damage to our planet.
The good news is that there are ways to combat this pollution epidemic and there are things you can do on a personal level to help. Companies like Sundried are turning this waste into treasure by recycling the plastic bottles and giving them a new lease of life. With a sportswear range made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, they are helping to clean up the global excess of plastic bottles which would otherwise take thousands or even millions of years to decompose naturally. By recycling plastic and turning it into useful products like sportswear, brands like Sundried are not only reducing plastic waste but are also reducing harmful emissions and water waste used to create new textiles.
Sundried also work with charities like Surfers Against Sewage who undertake the biggest and most impactful plastic clean ups on beaches across the UK. Their Big Spring Beach Clean helped to remove an enormous 55 tonnes of plastic waste in 2016. You can help by volunteering to help clean up your local beach, or find other charities who may do work closer to home for you. There are lots of ways we can all help this global issue and help to make our planet a better place to live for everyone.