Citizens and clothing behaviours during lockdown

24th June 2020

Our survey looking at citizens clothing clear outs, storage and donation behaviours

Key findings
UK citizens are set to dispose of 67 million items of clothing as UK comes out of lockdown.
One third of the UK citizens had a lockdown clothing clear-out with an on average 11 items of clothing no longer wanted.
50% of UK citizens avoid generating clothing waste. That’s risen by 20% in just two years.

Responses to our Citizen Insights: Textiles and COVID-19 Survey indicates during the UK lockdown many citizens took the opportunity to declutter their wardrobes. The majority wanted these items to go to good use and on average cleared out 11 items of clothing they no longer want and will donate once lockdown ends. 

The research was undertaken with 2,422 UK adults aged 18+, from 22-24 May 2020. Families with children at home (53% say they have cleared out textiles during the lockdown vs. 37% with no children at home), 18-34-year olds (50% vs. 33% of those aged 55+) and women (50% vs. 32% of men). 

Clear out behaviours during lockdown 

  • Citizens have disposed of textiles during lockdown.  Around two in five (41%) UK citizens have disposed of textiles during the COVID-19 lockdown – most commonly items of clothing (cited by 37%), followed by shoes/footwear (19%), bedding (12%), bags/handbags (10%), clothing accessories (10%) and household textiles (10%).
  • Being stored at home, ready to dispose. Over half of the items – 57% – remain at home pending disposal after the lockdown ends, whereas 43% have already been disposed of. Bags/handbags and clothing are more likely to still be at home pending disposal (60% and 59%, respectively). 
  • Donate to charity. Among those with items still to dispose of, almost half (49%) intend to dispose of one or more in a charity shop, followed by a charity bag collection (17%) and the general rubbish (14%). 

Wider outlook towards clothing

The research found a trend towards greater environmental awareness. We found that 50% of UK citizens actively avoid generating clothing waste. That’s risen by 20% in just two years.

Two-thirds of people go out of their way to ensure their unwanted clothes go to good use. People were holding on the majority of the clothing they were getting rid of, to find somewhere for it to go once lockdown ends. The most favoured route for getting rid of clothes is donating them to charity. 

Following the research, we developed four simple messages to encourage citizens to recycle their clothing:

WRAP has some really simple advice for people who aren’t sure what to do with items they no longer want at this time, on the Love Your Clothes website.

The insights from the research have been shared with signatories to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020 Commitment to help support messaging by retailers and brands encouraging people to donate textiles through in-store collections, which are an often-underused route for recycling clothing.