The Shady side of the clothing recycling industry and how we're helping to stop it

The Shady side of the clothing recycling industry and how we’re helping to stop it

The good & bad sides of the clothing recycling industry


Recycling your unwanted clothing instead of sending it to the landfill is generally considered a good thing to do. Not only are you helping the environment, but you are potentially helping people who may not be able to afford brand new clothes access clean new clothing for them and their families.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the world of clothing recycling. While there are undoubtedly many benefits and upsides to the industry, there are some downsides and shady areas too.

The shady side

It has been reported recently that up to 20 clothing recycling banks a week go missing across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

shady side of recycling

While good-hearted people are donating their unwanted clothing in these banks, unscrupulous people are going to quite extraordinary lengths to steal the entire clothing bank so that they can sell the clothes on themselves. This phenomenon, unfortunately, isn’t limited to just the big clothing banks. Many people report that the clothing donation bags that they receive through their letterbox and then fill and leave on their driveways are often collected by random people in cars or vans displaying no charity information at all.

Another unfortunate bad side of the clothing recycling industry recently is the rise in charity shop pricing. Increases in high street rental and amenities are meaning that charity shops need to make more money to stay open. This is meaning they are having to price their clothes higher, often meaning that people who relied on second-hand clothing are now struggling to afford these increased costs.

It’s not all doom and gloom

The Shady side of the clothing recycling industry and how we're helping to stop it


Fortunately, donating clothes does have more good points than bad. The clothing donated to the Community Recycling Initiative is exported to Eastern Europe where it is sorted and sent to second hand and charity shops in some of the most deprived areas. Not only are you old, unwanted clothes going to those most in need, they are also helping hard-working people to set up their own independent businesses so that they can have a career and support their own families. Clothing donated directly to us or through our clothing banks helps us to support an entire chain of workers across a range of industries; it’s amazing what your old jeans and t-shirts can accomplish.

As a non-profit organisation, any profits that we make at the Community Recycling Initiative are pumped back into the projects, charities and schools across Northern Ireland that support us do our work.


The Shady side of the clothing recycling industry and how we're helping to stop it


This way, we can ensure that we are helping those in need both abroad and at home to give a helping hand where it is needed. You can feel better donating your old trousers and jumpers knowing that you are helping people across Europe and in Northern Ireland.

Just like any industry, there is some dark sides to the clothing recycling industry, however, these are few and far between when compared to the good that can be done. Don’t let the actions of a few put you off donating your old clothes and protecting the environment and helping those most in need at the same time.

Find out more about how we’re supporting a local charity – ‘relay for life’ with a joint effort with Kernans

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