Clothing and other textile waste in Brisbane

Clothes, footwear, sheets, towels, blankets and household textiles are part of our everyday lives. When it comes time to dispose of these items, there are a lot of things you can do to keep them out of landfill and in circulation.

Find out more about research into sustainable fashion and textiles on the QUT TextileR: Future Textile Industries website.

How can you reduce textile waste?

We all wear clothes and use textiles, which means we all play a vital role in slowing down 'fast fashion' and contributing to a more sustainable Brisbane.

Prevent

Prioritise second-hand over new, fast fashion.

Read top tips to prevent textile waste by buying less, restyling or mending your clothes and buying second-hand.

Use these tips to help prevent textile waste

  • Think - 'do I really need this item?' before you buy anything.
    • Manage the impulse to buy by unfollowing social media accounts, unsubscribing from e-newsletters and deleting apps that encourage you to shop. It's not a bargain if you don't need it!
  • Buy second-hand:
    • online via eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, The Closet, Nextdoor app, or other local share apps
    • visit a Council Treasure Trove in Acacia Ridge or Geebung
    • visit your local op shop, charity store, or local market (e.g. Suitcase Rummage).
  • Learn how to repair clothes or get them professionally altered.
  • Restyle your existing clothing or home furnishings.

If you need to buy new:

  • choose high-quality, versatile clothing over cheap, poorly-made, fast fashion items. These items might cost more but often last longer.
  • choose clothes that are made of natural fibres such as cotton, linen, wool, silk, hemp or bamboo. Avoid buying mixed fibre clothing, unless the mixed fibres are natural. Synthetic materials including polyester, nylon and elastane are sources from non-renewable fossil fuels that are unsustainable. 
  • choose clothes that are made in Australia. Even better if you buy local.
Circulate

Sell or donate your unwanted clothes and textiles.

Put your textiles back into circulation by selling or donating them, or hosting a clothes swap to keep them out of landfill.

Tips to help you circulate clothing/textiles

  • Sell or donate your unwanted clothes and textiles that are in good condition. You can do this:
    • online on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, The Closet, depo, Nextdoor app, or other local share apps
    • at local op shops, charity stores and local markets (e.g. Suitcase Rummage)
    • at Council's Treasure Troves in Acacia Ridge and Geebung.
  • Gift your preloved clothes to family and friends.
  • Host a clothes swap with friends to freshen up your wardrobe without buying new clothing. See tips on how to hold a clothing swap on the Biome website.
  • Drop off bras in good condition to Biome stores who donate to the Support the Girls charity.
  • Donate running shoes in good condition to Shoes for Planet Earth who deliver them to people in need around Australia.
Repurpose

Upcycle your existing clothes and textiles

Repurpose unwanted clothes and textiles.

Tips to repurpose clothes/textiles

  • Upcycle your old textiles into serviettes, handkerchiefs, scrunchies or cleaning cloths/rags.
  • Be inspired by the Japanese art of furoshiki and wrap gifts in fabric or scarves.
  • Keep fabric scraps for repairing clothes.
  • Donate fabric and textiles to Reverse Garbage - ring them first.
  • Donate fabric to Boomerang Bags where volunteers will make reusable shopping bags.
  • Donate fabric to Days for Girls to make washable pads for women and girls around the world.
  • Donate old towels, sheets and blankets to local animal shelters, vets, mechanics and painters. 
Recycle

Recycle unwanted clothing or textiles

If you can't repurpose unwanted clothing or textiles, consider recycling them.

Tips to recycle clothes/textiles

  • Drop off your pre-loved clothes, shoes and other textiles for recycling at:
    • H&M, Zara, Uniqlo and Upparel – each retailer has garment collection programs
    • Macpac and Patagonia have trade-in programs for their own pre-loved clothing where customers can return their worn-out or damaged clothing for store credit.
    • Tread Lightly at participating retail locations (old sport shoes and thongs)
    • Havaianas recycle drop-off points.
  • Drop off your pre-loved sheets and towels (any brand) at your local Sheridan store.
  • Compost textiles made from natural fibres (including cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, wool, silk) at home or add them to your worm farm. Cut them up into small pieces first. 
  • Contact Total Uniform Solutions for information about recycling corporate uniforms and workwear.
  • If your workplace or business has large quantities of clothing, textiles and other second-hand goods to recycle, visit Planet Ark's Business Recycling website to find suitable collection or drop-off services.
  • Donate your old boots to the Totally Workwear Boot recycling program when you buy new boots from them.

As a last resort, place your worn-out clothes and other textile waste in your general waste bin. 

Remember – when textiles are buried in landfill, it produces potent greenhouse emissions.

Textile waste facts

  • About 800,000 tonnes of textile waste goes to landfill each year in Australia.
  • Each Australian consumes on average 27 kilograms of new clothing each year and disposes around 23 kilograms of clothing to landfill over the same period.
  • An estimated 6000 kilograms of textiles are dumped in landfill every 10 minutes in Australia.
  • The fashion industry is responsible for approximately 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Impacts of textile waste

Textile waste can contribute to:

  • water use - It takes 2700 litres of water to produce a single t-shirt — that's enough drinking water for a person for 2.5 years.
  • water pollution - Textile production is estimated to generate 20% of global clean water pollution. A single household laundry load of polyester clothes can discharge 700,000 microplastic fibres into the environment, which can then end up in food chains.
  • greenhouse gases - When synthetic clothes are sent to landfill, they produce more greenhouse gases than natural fibres.
  • landfill - In Brisbane, an estimated 8500 tonnes of textiles end up in landfill every year from household general waste bins. In Australia, 6000 kilograms of textiles waste is sent to landfill every 10 minutes.

Global target

By 2030, to substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse1.


1. Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 - Responsible consumption and production, United Nations

Last updated: 27 May 2022

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