I’d heard about the H&M Conscious garment collecting initiative recently, where you can donate old clothes and textiles in return for a £5 voucher, so I thought I’d try it out for myself.
Because I sew, I end up with heaps of offcuts, scraps and threads that until recently ended up heading to landfill – not good. I couldn’t find anywhere that would accept them. All clothing donation bins and ‘cash for clothes’ type places locally only accept whole, good quality items. I popped into H&M to ask if they’d take my bags of offcuts and I think the cashier was a little confused by how excited I was when she said yes – but this is hugely important to me. I’m trying to sew and run a small business in the most sustainable, conscientious way possible. This of course takes time, but knowing I can now recycle my ‘leftovers’ is a big step.
So off I went to H&M with a bag full of crap…
Next to the till I found the collection box. One issue I have, because I’m picky, is that you have to donate the items in a bag. The most obvious bag you’d use is an old plastic carrier bag, but for someone who only uses reusable bags (namely these beauties which I also sell) it becomes a bit of an issue, and perhaps it’s a bit counter-productive to be promoting a recycling scheme that requires the use of plastic bags?! Next time I’m in I’m going to ask if I can just bring the clothes in a reusable bag and throw them into the collection box, loose. I’ll update you on that one. Anyway, I dug out a plastic bag from my pre-reusable-bag days and took that along, then chucked it in the box I found at the side of the till…
So what happens to this stuff now? You can find out more about the initiative here, but the basics can be found on the leaflets they have in store, which I have kindly taken a photo of.
Rewear: Clothing that can be worn again is marketed worldwide as second-hand goods.
Reuse: Textiles that are no longer suitable to wear are converted into other products, such as cleaning cloths. (You can also do this at home yourself, rather than heading out to grab some from the supermarket – my Nana used her old knickers, I was traumatised).
Recycle: Textiles that can’t be reused get a new chance as textile fibres, or are used to manufacture products such as damping and insulation materials for the auto industry. (That’ll be my stuff then!)
What a great way to make sure your clothes are used to their best potential. After all, it takes 2,700 litres of water to grow enough cotton for one shirt – let’s make it worth the water.
In return for your donated bag, you will receive a voucher for £5 off your next £25 spend at H&M. Obviously, as my challenge rules state, I won’t be buying any clothes so this voucher is heading to a lucky friend.
If you’re wondering about H&M’s ethical credentials you can always check them out on Ethical Consumer, where they rank pretty well. Also H&M have made a commitment to using only organic cotton by 2020 – yay! Remember though, this is only one option for recycling your old textiles, don’t forget upcycling, charity shops, schools, craft groups, swap shops and so on.
Have you used H&M’s clothing donation box? Do any other shops near you have similar initiatives? Let me know in the comments.