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European Waste Week is an annual event that raises awareness about the importance of waste reduction and recycling. The event is aimed at businesses, local authorities, and members of the public. Each year, European Waste Week features a different theme, and the most recent was textiles, a very relevant topic, considering the impact fast fashion has on our environment. Studies found that the average person only wears 20% of their clothes. Brands churn out fast fashion at an alarming rate, much of which is thrown out without being worn. The focus for 2023 will be packaging.

You can spread the word on social media, write an article for your local newspaper, or give a presentation at your child’s school. Every little bit helps! Looking to get involved in this year’s European week for waste reduction? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Organise a community clean-up day

Clothing banks are a great way to recycle used items and help those in need. TRAID, the charity dedicated to repurposing textiles, offer free home collections through their website. Bring your community together and see how much of your wardrobe you can provide to those in need; you can even turn it into a friendly competition. Not only will you be helping clear out closets, but you’ll also be making a difference in your environment. You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to participate. And who knows, you might even find some new friends. Utilise environmentally friendly packaging to ensure you do your part for the environment.

2. Circular economy

It is estimated that 92 million tonnes of textiles are wasted annually; that’s…a lot. The world produces 141 million tonnes of plastic packaging a year. This reflects the wasteful attitude attached to fast fashion and packaging. Many buy clothes impulsively and wear them once or twice before they cast them aside, along with the packaging that goes with them. Garments can also be damaged easily; many will throw out a perfect outfit simply because of a small stain or hole. This wastefulness is not only bad for the environment, but it also wastes your hard-earned money. Recovering your favourite forgotten fashion items this week is a great way to combat this wasteful attitude.

The circular economy is the future of fashion, focusing on recovering or repurposing rather than throwing away clothes. Designers worldwide are already working on designs that go against the short-term culture currently available. You can take a pair of trousers to your local tailor or find your needle and string to conduct a recovery job. Materials around Europe are wasted too often in the name of ‘relevancy’. Let’s mend our clothes and our environment!

3. Buy second-hand

Each year, European consumers discard approximately 5.8 million tonnes of textiles – around 11 kg per person. Of this total, synthetic fibres make up about two-thirds. The toxic chemicals used in synthetic fabrics can leach into the environment and contaminate soil and water supplies. As such, it is essential for consumers to be aware of the potential impact of their textile choices and to take steps to reduce their wastefulness. One way to do this is to purchase items made from natural fibre fabrics, which can be recycled, composted or reused in a fashion-based circular economy. Another option is to buy second-hand clothing, which reduces the demand for new textile production.

4. Be innovative

European Waste Week is an initiative that encourages people to take action on their own waste management throughout the year. The initiative began in 2009, and since then, thousands of actions have been taken by individuals, schools, businesses, and organisations across Europe. These actions range from simple things like recycling more at home to larger-scale projects like installing solar panels or getting your classroom together to recycle clothes. European Waste Week aims to raise awareness about waste reduction’s importance and get people involved. This year’s European Waste Week will take place on November 19-27th, and everyone is encouraged to participate. This year, challenge yourself to be innovative and develop your way of educating and changing minds. Whether you act by yourself or as part of a group, consider how you can influence others about the importance of reducing textile waste. Last year ‘The Week’ recorded over 12,000 actions from all around Europe, that’s 12,000 attempts at reducing waste. Get in touch with the European Week for Waste Reduction team to record your action.

5. Spread the word

There are many articles online about the impact fashion has on our planet. Here are some eye-opening ones you can share:

Green style and keeping your wardrobe sustainable

Reducing waste by reusing items

European week for waste reduction media

Plastic in textiles

Join millions worldwide by using the hashtag #EWFWR to share the word with your network. Together, we can make a difference and create a better future for us all.



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