Textile Waste in Australia. What’s It Costing Us?


We all love the feel of something new. But what happens to all of our old garments? There’s only so much space in the back of your wardrobe, so eventually, they get shuffled out. Yes, some end up with a charity, but how much can they really use them? And just how much of our hard-earned money are we spending on new clothes?

Budget Bee has the answers and some helpful tips on saving your budget from the danger of impulse buying.


Where do our old clothes go?

While the average Australian is socially conscious, we can fall behind on environmental initiatives as a country. As reported in the national clothing and textile waste roundtable in May last year, Australians are purchasing an average of 27 kilograms of new clothes each year, and 23 kilograms are going straight to landfill. How do we compare to other nations? We’re second only to the US in textile waste.

There are some great new and old initiatives scaling up to solve the problem of textile waste, with product stewardship and end of life considerations being a significant concern. But there’s a long way to go, and everyone has a role to play.

So, where do the rest of our old clothes wind up? Charities like The Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul’s collect much of them through their long-standing initiatives.


What do charities like Salvos and Vinnies do with our old clothes?

This report published by Charitable Recycling Australia tracks the donation and recycling of many materials used in our country. As of March last year, only 16.5% of donated textiles were actually sold in charity shops, and less than half were recycled or reused in Australia. That leaves a lot sent overseas to be reused or wasted.

So, how can you be sure that your old clothes are part of the cherished 16.5%? Spokespeople from many of these organisations recommend a simple rule; if you wouldn’t give it to a friend, don’t give it to them!

When it comes to recycling, it’s recommended to purchase clothing that isn’t blended. 100% cotton is the best for getting a second chance in life for your old shirt, and even 100% polyester is better than a blend.


So, what’s the cost? How much are we spending?

While it can be hard to track exactly what we’re spending on clothes overall, it’s estimated that the average Australian spends somewhere near $1,500 per year on fashion, placing us in the top few countries globally.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that recent spending on clothing, footwear, and personal accessories has risen by 11% in February this year.

And, it seems that mobile online shopping is to take the lion’s share of the blame. A recent report by Paypal suggests that the younger generations are making more impulse purchases than any other, over 70% of them!

While we all need to replace our clothes at some point, it seems that impulse purchases without much consideration are worsening the issue of textile waste in our country and hurting our wallets at the same time.


How can you reduce your impulse spending and save more money?

Budget Bee has a few great tips to help you rein in your purchases and save you from buyer’s regret:
– Be aware of the marketing tactics that stores use on you. Everything from store layout, advertisements, and even how e-commerce stores are run are optimised to separate you from your wallet. And knowing really does help! Being aware of the tactics makes them far less likely to work on you.

– Plan your purchases ahead of time. When it’s time to replace your old clothing, write a list of what you need before shopping. Stay on-mission when you’re in a retail store, and you’ll spend far less on unnecessary purchases!

– Practice impulse control. It’s all too common to suffer from poor impulse control, but the good news is that you can train yourself to hold out for delayed gratification. Start small, abstain from having that snack when you crave it and wait 15 minutes. It’ll feel better when you get to have it later, and you’ll make better decisions by waiting.
Keeping to your budget can be challenging, but Budget Bee knows how rewarding it can be to stick to a plan, and you’ll be helping our environment at the same time!


That’s the buzz from Budget Bee!

If you’d like to find more budgeting tips or if you’d like to comment about this hot topic, we’d love to see you on the Facebook page

Budget Bee

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