Wastesaver: fighting the clothes to landfill crisis

We're proud that no donated item goes to landfill.

Drop that coat, pair of jeans or top off at your nearby Oxfam shop and there's a good chance it will sell there. But what if it doesn't - does it go in the bin? Thankfully not. At Oxfam we work very hard to find a new use for every item of clothing you give. All thanks to our very busy sorting warehouse in Batley, West Yorkshire and our partner, CTR.

Oxfam has been doing the reusing and reselling thing since the 1940s, when the first Oxfam Shop opened. Then, in 1974, Oxfam became the first national charity to develop its own facility for recycling and reusing clothes that never sends clothes to landfill. Wastesaver and CTR now handles 12,000 tonnes of textiles every year from donations to Oxfam.

So what happens to your clothes once they get to Wastesaver? 

First, they make their way down huge conveyor belts; where our clothing experts sort through it by hand, to decide where it should go next. Next, the things are sent or sold on to the most suitable market – never to landfill.

What happens to your donated clothes if they don't sell in your local Oxfam shop?

Kitty Norwell/Oxfam

1. Oxfam's sorting centre

Your clothes and textiles are brought to Oxfam's unique recycling plant in Batley from the local area. Our experts then sort through it by hand, to decide where it should go next.

Sam Baggette/Oxfam

2. Oxfam's Festival Shops

Your clothes might end up at Glastonbury, or one of our many pop-up shops that we run throughout the summer in the UK.

3. Oxfam's Online Shop

You might see your pre-loved clothing listed on our online shop, along with thousands of other items.

Rachel Manns/Oxfam

4. Oxfam's high street shops

If you donate something, like a vintage dress, we know it will sell at a particular kind of Oxfam shop on the high street, so we'll send it there.

Clothes at an Oxfam recycling plant. Credit: Kitty Norwell/Oxfam

5. Working with partners

Our recycling partner CTR collects clothes, textiles, books and bric from across the country and gives new life to unsold stock, ensuring nothing they receive goes to landfill.

Why is Oxfam raising awareness about sustainable fashion?

  • 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the textile industry, that's more than shipping and aviation combined
  • The poorest people on the planet, who did the least to cause climate change, are being affected the most - through droughts and floods
  • Fast fashion thrives on low prices and that usually involves low wages - especially for women.

How can buying clothes from an Oxfam shop help the environment?

It would take 13 years to drink the amount of water it takes to make just one top and pair of jeans.

Whenever you donate or buy through an Oxfam shop, you're helping to protect the planet by giving clothes a second lease of life.

How can donating clothes to Oxfam help others?

Just the money raised from one dress could help us buy drought-resistant seeds for people in Zimbabwe and help them to keep growing food despite the impacts of climate change.

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  • Wastesaver: fighting the clothes to landfill crisis