You donate your old clothes and they get recycled, right?
Sorry to burst your bubble, but they don’t…and here is why.

Charities collect your old clothes. Schools and supermarkets collect them in clothes banks, there are street collections and there is even dedicated Council recycling points you can access. It seems we have the system worked out except why do people still ask “how do I get rid of old clothes?

Charity Collections

Charities are not set up to cope with the sheer volume of clothes we now throw away. 

A lot is dumped on their doorstep, isn’t washed, is stained, torn or is generally in bad shape. 

On average, 80% of what you donate isn’t good enough.

These items cannot be sold and are sold on to textile collectors for around £0.35 – £0.50 per kg. 

(One kilogram is usually two pairs of fast fashion jeans.)

Supermarket Collections

Supermarket car park bins are run by either charities or textile collectors. 

You go to the shops, you dump your old clothes. 

In a metal box…


In the UK…Are you serious?! 

The charity has the same sifting process and most will end up in the same place – textile collectors for around £0.35 – £0.50 per kg.

School Collections

Some schools have collection bins in their playgrounds, allowing parents can drop off old clothes when they drop their kids off at school. These are run by the same textile collectors and they buy from the schools for around £0.35 – £0.50 per kg.

Street Collections

Street collections are by the same textile collectors. You put out the coloured bin on a day they are collecting. Easy. This is just for private housing, not communal flatted blocks as there is no communal clothes, or street collection here.

Recycling Centres

Lastly, the Council-run recycling centres where you can drive out and dispose of your general waste. Clothes can also be dumped here and taken away by textile collectors.

Are you beginning to see a pattern? 

If you have a contract with the Council you get to collect all the waste clothing, either free, or for around £0.35 – £0.50 per kg.

Then what? Where does all this clothing go? How do I get rid of old clothes and where do they actually go?

Overseas Export

The majority is still shipped overseas and we are told it is to clothe the less fortunate but is it?

Fast fashion cast-offs are low-quality items. Charities cannot sell them as they are usually cheap mixed blends. We can’t recycle them, they are not really quality enough for foreign markets and so they end up in a landfill. 

Somewhere else, not here.

But we clothe the less fortunate for free, right? These are our cast-offs…

Nope. This is big business.

What is bought from a UK charity for £0.35 – £0.50 per kg is SOLD to developing countries for £1.50 – £2.00 per kg, which is a 400% mark up.

The quality of the product drops, causing the price to fall, which increases the volume to keep the margins for the textile collectors. We can all thank H&M, Primark, Zara, M&S and their friends for this lunacy.

African Textile Industry

The African markets are awash with our cast-offs. These clothes are available at a fraction of the price of local product and their artisans cannot compete. We are killing their industry and skills but shown images of happy kids wearing fast fashion, to justify the action.

What happens when African countries stand up to this?

Trade deals are at risk, as is their ability to access international markets, so they stand down and continue to be a dumping ground for our mess.

Do we care? Can we change it?

I ask you to please set aside 30 minutes and watch Textile Mountain and ITN News which both very clearly show the problem.

Time To Change The System

Arkdefo believe the system can be changed but it will take people power.

There are too many vested interests making money out of less fortunate people than us, so let’s change that.

We believe we should deal with our own clothing waste. If we saw the sheer size of it, like in Ghana, we would change our attitude to clothing.

If we can slow down consumption; stop buying into their weekly collection insanity; stop buying their cheap offers; understand everything comes at a price; understand when we throw away fast fashion that we make the landfill in Ghana bigger and the local artisans even poorer.


We can change it, by making a better, fairer system that helps people in our communities, creates jobs, industry and finally puts a stop to dumping overseas. No more “how do I get rid of old clothes?”

It is estimated that one bin lorry full of clothes is dumped to a landfill EVERY SECOND.

180 bin lorries dumped our clothing waste to landfill in the time it took to read this article.

Watch the videos again, then head to Arkdefo #Donatedenim and follow our mission. 

We are going to change things.

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