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Is Your Wardrobe Full of Unworn Clothes?

Is Your Wardrobe Full of Unworn Clothes?

Are you guilty of buying clothes you never wear? It seems like a lot of us have items in our wardrobes that still grace their tags. 

So much so that new sustainability research from Thought reveals UK shoppers will buy 28 items of clothing on average this year, but will only wear just over half (57%), with 12 of the garments remaining unworn.

That’s equivalent to 640 million items of clothing wasted in Britain this year

And every person in the UK spending £36,168 on 972 items of clothing over their lifetime that they don’t need to.

According to the research, UK shoppers will purchase around 1.5 billion different garments this year, and given that nearly three-fifths of all clothing will end up in incinerators or landfills within years of being made, the environmental cost to the planet is huge.

Sustainable clothing brand, Thought carried out the research to uncover how much clothing is made unnecessarily each year and to highlight the environmental benefits of ‘slow fashion’ – the planet-friendly alternative to fast fashion.

Speaking to 2,000 UK shoppers, Thought’s study revealed more than a third of Brits (36%) admit they do not need the amount of clothes they buy. While almost half (40%) own clothes they’ve never worn and one in five (17%) say, they often buy clothes just to wear once.

Following this research, Co-Founder and CEO of Thought, John Snare shares his thoughts and insights into changing your purchasing mindset. 

Buy less, buy better

“By adopting a ‘slow fashion’ mindset, shopping smart and only buying clothing that you really love, you can help ensure that clothes aren’t made unnecessarily.

Opting for sustainable plant-based fabrics like hemp, bamboo and organic cotton will also help to reduce the environmental impact of the clothes that you wear. Not only are these materials good for the planet, but they also feel great next to the skin and are hard-wearing.”

Photo: Unsplash

The rise of slow fashion

Thought’s study also positively revealed that as a nation, there has been a significant shift towards living more sustainably. More than half of Brits (56%) are now using less plastic, one in four (24%) eat less meat and over a third (38%) are choosing to walk or cycle instead of driving.

While only 16% of Brits are reducing the number of flights they take, one in four (27%) said they are reducing the amount of fast fashion clothing they buy, and a third (33%) are actively not purchasing single-use garments. The global fashion carbon budget equates to more carbon emissions than flights and maritime shipping combined – so reducing wastage within the fashion industry is definitely a move in the right direction.

Savvy ways to save the planet

Around 350,000 tonnes of clothing currently goes into landfill each year in the UK – so, in addition to reducing the amount of clothing that’s produced unnecessarily because it’s never worn, extending the lifecycle of clothing is also a great way to reduce wastage and help save the planet.

Encouragingly, findings from the research reveal almost three-quarters of the UK (72%) regularly donate items to charity when they no longer want to wear them, and more than half (52%) repair items when they break rather than throwing them away.

John continued:

“Our mantra at Thought is ‘wear me, love me, mend me, pass me on’, so if your clothes break or rip, mending them rather than replacing them can go a long way. And when it is finally time to let go of an item of clothing, pass it on to friends, family or a charity and let it be loved again.” 



Survey conducted in July 2019 by Censuswide on behalf of Thought to 2,000 UK adults aged 16 and above.

UK adult population figure of 53,534,872 was sourced from… to calculate the number of people in the UK in relation to specific statistics within research.

Statistic for cost of clothing sourced from… Average cost per item of clothing = £37.21.

Lifetime calculated age 16-81 (average UK life expectancy) – source ONS:…

Landfill statistic – sourced from McKinsey report:…

Top photo by jordi pujadas on Unsplash