We hear from fundraiser and local entrepreneur, Dave Martin, about his recent trip to the Bristol Textile Recycling Centre to pick out donated running tops for our Bath Half Marathon team.
I’m being given the tour of the Bristol Textile Recycling facility in St. Philips and the thought that enters my mind is “Wow, what a lot of clothes!” I’m absolutely stunned by the bags piled up to the ceiling waiting to be processed, being thrown into sorting bins and bailed up in to massive bundles. My tour guide Aimee, is, along with yours truly, running the Bath Half Marathon to raise sponsorship money for Labour Behind the Label.
Aimee explains that her reason for raising money comes from Labour Behind the Label’s work supporting garment workers. Bristol Textile Recyclers see the effects of fast fashion first hand: “A lot of clothes we see these days we can’t recycle because they just aren’t made to last”. Bristol Textile Recyclers buy clothes that charity shops can’t sell as they are often inundated with old clothes. They pay a price per kilo for clothes and then cream off the clobber that vintage shops might want to buy and that would be suitable for the eastern europe market, before sorting the rest systematically into different bins for each type of clothing. These clothes get bundled up and sold in bulk to countries in Africa and Pakistan. “By selling the stock to these markets we enable people in developing countries to buy good quality clothing at prices they could not afford otherwise. This also provides vital trade for the country by creating jobs for those who handle and grade, or sell the clothes”.
There’s just a massive amount of clothes in the building. I look out for some unwanted Christmas presents that I donated to St. Peter’s Hospice (sorry Mum). According to Wrap, around £140m (350,000 tonnes) worth of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year – that’s around 30% of our unwanted clothing! I think people are being more conscientious and recycling but there needs to more thought at the start of a garment’s life cycle. There are plenty of companies out there that build in redundancy into their products. These clothes fall apart and can’t be recycled. Their business model is for you to buy clothes from them time and time again. It’s the bottom line that matters and that’s all they are interested in. They don’t care how good you look. They don’t care how good you feel pulling on a new outfit. And they certainly don’t care about the people who make their clothes, as they use suppliers who are in a race to the bottom to drive costs lower and will cut any corner they can.
We look for some tee shirts for us to run in. There’s plenty of running tops to choose from and we pick out some plain cotton shirts of different colours. My bugbear is that events, especially races, or conferences give away cheap tee shirts to everyone to mark the occasion, charities often do this too, but I wonder how much use these freebees get worn after the event. Wouldn’t it be better to get people to pre-order the shirt beforehand – make it an option, rather than an included cost. In my new social venture Call of the Brave, we allow anyone to crowdfund their tee shirt design and if successful we print on either shirts made from 100% recycled cotton and plastic bottles, or bamboo. They are shirts that are really made to last. If you’re going to buy a tee shirt – make sure it means something to you and that you’ll wear it time and time again. Wear the change you want to see in the World.
Call of the Brave