These days, we tend to know a lot more about the perils of fast fashion; consumers in general are opting to build a greener wardrobe, and more of us are aware of the delights of charity shops, apps like Vinted and other clothing recycling schemes. But when it comes to underwear… people don’t really want other people’s used pants. I mean, we can’t blame them. And even if they did, there are strict rules in place that make passing on underwear a little more tricky too. So the options when it comes to recycling underwear might be somewhat limited-but is it completely impossible?
According to The Business Insider, the fashion industry makes up a staggering 10% of global carbon emissions. Not only that, but fast fashion is the second largest consumer of the world’s water supply too. And when we wash these clothes, we unwittingly release a massive 500,000 tonnes of microfibres into the ocean each year… that’s the equivalent of an eye-watering 50 BILLION plastic bottles. But it doesn’t end there, because when we’re done with the latest fashion must-haves, we send 85% of the things we no longer wear straight to landfill too.
Once in landfill, London Recycles reports that even natural textiles can take hundreds of years to decompose, and they’ll release methane and CO2 gas into the atmosphere as they do it. Synthetic fabrics, meanwhile, will simply sit there because they’re not designed to decompose. They’ll release toxic substances instead.
If we recycle clothes, we can avoid all of this. We can find new items to fill our wardrobes, give new life to preloved clothes and save money while we’re at it. But what about underwear?
We’re expected to be throwing away 134 million tonnes of textiles by the year 2030, and underwear makes up part of that devastating figure. We’re throwing away more than ever, and yet we continue to buy more than ever too. Something has to give. But does anyone even want preloved pants?
Yes, you can recycle underwear in the UK- but there are some ground rules. The charity Smalls for All collect underwear for people in Africa and the UK, and their stipulation is that all donations must be unused. The London Sock Exchange takes new and used sock donations and recycles them, and there are some homeless charities that will take unused underwear too.
And if you can find a textile recycling point, you can recycle your used underwear along with other items too. Check here to find your closest recycling point– just make sure you wash your undies first!
How about period pants? What do we do with those after we’ve finished with them? The good news is that WUKA period pants can be sent to textile recycling points just like normal pants. But the even better news is that some WUKA pants are biodegradable, so they can be returned to the earth to decompose safely too.
We use only planet friendly materials here at WUKA. All our materials are of the highest quality- from GOTS organic cotton to Tencel Modal made from sustainable beech trees, to Econyl made from plastic waste from our oceans. Tencel Modal fibres are biodegradable and compostable under industrial, home soil and marine conditions- so they can be retuned back to nature after use.
We continually strive to keep our carbon footprint naturally small here at WUKA. We offset more than we use and we’re carbon neutral, rated by the Carbon Footprint. The average pair of WUKA period pants has a life span of two years if cared for properly- and if every menstruating person in the UK made the switch, we’d save 4.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide overall!
You can read more about WUKA’s carbon emissions in our report and feel free to reach out with any questions you may have about materials we use and how to dispose of your pants sustainably after use.
Underwear can be recycled, but it needs to go to specific textile recycling points. Find out where your nearest recycling point is here.
Most underwear can be recycled, as long as you dispose of it in the correct way. Unused underwear can be donated to charities, or passed on/ sold if you wish. Used underwear isn’t usually accepted by charities- but don’t just throw it away, otherwise it will end up in landfill
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