The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association (WMRR) is urging Australians to use National Thrift Shop Day (Thursday 17 August) to think about their waste from clothing. 

The latest figures show on average Australians purchase about 56 items of new clothing per person each year. That amounts to nearly 15 kilos in fabric.  

Of that over half is made from polyester – which is a form of PET plastic – and other synthetics make up 16 per cent.  

“So instead of simply buying a new shirt or dress from a retailer, consider whether you really need it. And if you do, use today to pop into your local op shop instead,” WMRR Chief Executive Gayle Sloan said.  

“Not only will you likely save a few dollars, which everyone is looking to do at the moment, you get to prolong the life of valuable materials and given that most of these shops are charity-run, you know your money is going to a good cause – plus you’re helping the environment along the way,” she said. 

“Australians are fully on board with recycling - supporting container deposit systems and kerbside recycling, and we’ve embraced the single use plastic bag ban. And whilst avoidance and recycling are integral to avoiding waste, we can do more such as re-use. 

“If we are to embrace the government’s goal of a circular economy by 2030, we need to dramatically reduce the 200,000 tonnes of clothing and textiles that end up in landfill each year.  

“The best way to achieve this is not to generate the waste in the first place. The next best thing is to dramatically increase our pitiful recycling rate in the textiles sector, which stands at just seven (7) per cent. 

“The fashion industry has a target of net zero by 2050. It has also established the National Clothing Textile Product Stewardship Scheme – Seamless to help us get there, but we can all act now by: 

  • Shopping at and donating good quality clothing to the more than 2,500 thrift and op shops across Australia; 
  • Purchasing products made from single natural fibres like cotton, wool or bamboo; 
  • Utilising the ever-increasing number of sharing and rental platforms, rather than buying new every time. 

“So on this National Thrift Shop Day, head into your local Salvos, Lifeline or Vinnies and help the planet too,” Ms Sloan said.