1.7m sequined items are BINNED after the Christmas party season but won’t ever biodegrade

- Published:
- Short URL: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/mc/gv6hcp/

Brits are set to celebrate the festive season in style, stepping out in sparkles and shimmery partywear. But little thought is spared on what happens to our glad-rags once they’ve lost their shine. According to new research from Oxfam, all that glitters is not gold, as 1.7 million sequined items of clothing and accessories will be binned after the party season.

  • 1.7 million sequined items of clothing and accessories will end up in landfill, as 5 % admit they throw out their sequins once they’re finished with them
  • Party-goers wear outfits just five times before they cast them aside
  • This year’s festive season will see British women purchase 33 million sequined garments and accessories at a cost of £415 million
  • Most sequins are plastic and don’t biodegrade – meaning they will languish in landfill for years to come
  • Celebs including Alesha Dixon, Una Healy and Alison Steadman have teamed up with Oxfam to encourage Brits to buy their sequins second-hand

Oxfam, which has more than 600 charity shops in the UK, is urging partygoers to buy their sequins second-hand and to donate them back to Oxfam after the festivities. And a star-studded cast of celebrities is backing the charity’s campaign, donating their shimmering partywear to shine a light on the problem – Alesha Dixon, Una Healy, Celia Imrie, Alice Levine, Louise Redknapp, Alison Steadman, KT Tunstall, and Grace Woodward.

Alesha Dixon said: ‘With the current climate emergency, we all need to do our part in looking after our planet, and shopping sustainably is something we all can do.’

Una Healy said: ‘Who doesn’t love a show-stopping shimmery sequined gown? But let’s face it – most of us will only wear it once for that special moment. So why not join us and donate it to Oxfam.’

Louise Redknapp said: ‘It’s shocking that so many sequined items will end up in landfill. I’m donating my sequined shirt to Oxfam because I’d like someone else to enjoy wearing it as much as I have.’

Alesha Dixon donated a stunning RIXO and Laura Jackson red sequined dress worth £295, which she is wearing on a forthcoming Alan Carr show, while Una Healey donated a full-length evening gown which she wore on the red carpet at this year’s National Lottery Awards. Louise Redknapp donated a sheer striped sequined shirt which she wore this summer when she performed her new track on television for the first time in 18 years. All of the items will be for sale on the Oxfam Online Shop today to raise money for the charity’s work fighting poverty around the world.

The research, of 2,000 women aged 18-55 years, found that half of the respondents leave the items to languish at the back of their wardrobe, and 70 per cent said they’d reach for the rails to buy something new, despite already owning sequined partywear. Only a quarter of the respondents were certain they would wear their outfit again. The research also found that 5 percent binned their sequined party pieces once they’d fallen out of love with them.

Most sequins are made from plastic and do not biodegrade, meaning they will languish in landfill for years to come.

Commenting on the research, which found that 3 in 5 will be wearing sequins come this year’s festive season, Oxfam’s sustainable fashion expert Fee Gilfeather said: ‘The harm throwaway fashion is doing to our planet is a worry for us all. Traditionally Christmas is a time of over-consumption, but as the new year approaches now is precisely the time to re-think the way we consume.

‘Our research shows that outfits only see an average of five wears before they are cast aside, so why not bag yourself a nearly new bargain in your local Oxfam shop or the Oxfam Online Shop. And then, when you’re finished with the item, why not donate it back to us so we can find a second home for it.’

Concerningly, two thirds (67%) don’t give their sequins a second thought once they have parted ways – a figure that leaps to 90% when it comes to 46-55-year olds, and drops to (55%) of 18-25 years olds showing they are more are conscious of their clothing footprint.


Notes to Editors

About Oxfam

To shop Oxfam partywear online go to: oxfam.org.uk/partywear

Oxfam fashion fights poverty: Every garment sold in Oxfam’s shops on the high street and online helps beat poverty. One dress could raise enough money to provide a woman in Bangladesh with a safe bathing cubicle, a shirt could provide safe, clean water for ten people in an emergency, and a coat could help train two farmers in Rwanda to better cope with extreme weather conditions. Last year Oxfam shops raised almost £19 million for our work fighting poverty around the world – that’s life-changing.

Oxfam fashion is sustainable: We’re part of the solution to fast fashion because we give clothes a second chance to be sold and prevent them ending up in landfill. Our pioneering recycling hub Wastesaver saves more than 12,000 tonnes of clothing from going into landfill every year.

Oxfam is a global movement of people all working towards the same goal – an end to the injustice of poverty. Together we save and rebuild lives in disasters, help people earn a living, and speak out on the big issues, like inequality and climate change, that keep people poor. Join us!

Research methodology

An online survey was conducted by Atomik Research among 2,003 women aged 18-55 years from the UK. The research fieldwork took place on 3rd December – 5th December 2019. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides to MRS code.


33 million sequined garments and accessories: 41% of respondents will be buying a sequined item of clothing this festive season, equating to an estimated 6,792,793 sequined garments due to be purchased. The research also determines that an average of 4.87 items are due to be purchased per person – equating to 33,080,902 items.

At a cost of 415 million: The average amount spent per person is £75.61. 33% of respondents will be buying a new (not second-hand) item of clothing this festive season.

1.7 million sequined items of clothing and accessories will be binned after the party season: The research determines that 33,080,902 sequined items are expected to be purchased this festive season. 5% of respondents admit to throwing away their sequined items when they are finished with them.

Press contact

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