Valuing our clothes is a summary of the key findings of a major technical report published by WRAP in 2012.

It presents estimates of the carbon, water and waste footprints of clothing throughout its life-cycle for one year for the UK as a whole, plus evidence from a major new survey of consumer behaviour involving 7,950 UK adults aged 16+.

It seeks to highlight opportunities across the clothing value chain to reduce the resource impacts of clothing supply, use and disposal.

Key findings

  • Changes to the way the UK supplies, uses and disposes of clothing could reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of clothing consumption by 10-20% each.
  • This could cut some £3 billion per year from the cost of resources used in making and cleaning clothes.

Overview

Research from WRAP has found that:

  • the annual footprints of a household’s new and existing clothing are equivalent tothe weight of over 100 pairs of jeans, the water needed to fill over 1,000 bathtubs, and the carbon emissions from driving an average modern car for 6,000 miles;
  • the average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes – but around 30% of clothing in the average wardrobe has not been worn for at least a year, most commonly because it no longer fits;
  • extending the average life of clothes by just three months of active use per item would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints;
  • two-thirds of UK consumers buy or receive pre-owned (or second-hand) clothes, and there is a willingness to wear more, especially if a better range were available; and
  • an estimated £140 million worth (350,000 tonnes) of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year.

Contents

Section 1: Key findings

Section 2: Measuring the carbon, water and waste impacts of UK clothing

Section 3: What is the potential to cut the footprint of UK clothing?

Section 4: Opportunities for businesses and consumers

  • A. Reducing the resource impact of the clothing sold to consumers
  • B. Extending the useful life of clothes
  • C. Increasing supply and demand for pre-owned clothing
  • D. Reducing the impacts of laundry
  • E. Keeping clothes out of landfill

Section 5: What happens next

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  • Valuing our clothes: The true cost of how we design, use and dispose of clothing in the UK (2012)

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