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Almost a third of clothes ‘hanging around’ unworn in UK wardrobes

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by Cancer Research UK | News

12 September 2019

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Two women/friends Clothes shopping
Almost a third of the average UK adult's wardrobe goes unworn

Almost a third of the average UK adult’s wardrobe goes unworn, according to new statistics published today. People claim to have 58 items in their wardrobe, yet around 17 of these they don’t wear anymore or have never worn. The survey of over 2,000 UK adults marks the return of TK Maxx’s ‘Give Up Clothes for Good’ campaign, one of the UK’s longest running charity clothes collections which raises money for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People.

“We want to encourage everyone to dig deep in their wardrobes and pull out those quality items to donate to the Give Up Clothes for Good campaign. Not only are you helping more children and young people survive cancer, you’re also giving your pre-loved items a second life and doing your bit to help the environment. The more people that take part, the more money we can raise!” – Jo Murphy, TK Maxx

The survey, conducted by Censuswide, showed that women tend to have larger wardrobes than men, with women claiming to own an average of around 65 items and men only 51. The results also revealed that women claim to have on average more trousers in their wardrobe at 10 pairs, while men only have eight. According to the survey, there are two unused pairs of trousers within the average wardrobe.

The survey also revealed some of the possible reasons behind the fast fashion trend.  Almost a quarter (24%) of UK adults admitted they bought clothes they’ve rarely worn or don’t wear on impulse, and over a fifth (22%) admitted that it was because the items were cheap. Over a quarter (26%) cited buying outfits for special occasions, such as weddings or birthdays, and almost a quarter (23%) said they thought the clothes would suit them at the time.

When asked why they still have items they have never worn in their wardrobe, respondents said it was because they didn’t fit (33%), they’d gone off the look of them (18%) and the fact that they felt bad for throwing them away (16%). 1 in 11 (9%) UK adults also said they had items they’ve never worn in their wardrobes because they were no longer fashionable.  

The survey found that 22% of UK adults keep clothes they no longer wear in the hope they’ll fit into them again in the future, while 13% of people keep them in case they come back into fashion. Over half (55%) of UK adults claimed they regularly donate clothes they no longer wear to charity, however, on average, they last donated over five months ago.

The statistics have been released as part of TK Maxx’s ‘Give Up Clothes for Good’ campaign which encourages people to donate their pre-loved quality clothes, homeware and accessories in any TK Maxx store.  The clothes are then sold in Cancer Research UK shops, with money raised going to Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People. As well as raising money to help more children and young people survive cancer, with a good quality of life, the campaign also provides an environmental benefit through the re-use and recycling of goods – with over 7,518 tonnes of unwanted items being given a second life and diverted from landfill since the campaign began in 2004.

Each bag donated could raise up to £30 for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People when sold in Cancer Research UK shops. TK Maxx stores accept customer donations all year round. 

Since 2004 TK Maxx has raised over £32.5 million for Cancer Research UK’s work into children’s and young people’s cancers. Since the beginning of the Give Up Clothes for Good campaign, TK Maxx associates and customers have helped in the collection of over 1.5 million bags of clothing and household goods. This amounts to over 7,518 tonnes of unwanted items that have been given a second life through Give Up Clothes For Good. Every tonne of clothing donated results in a net saving of approximately 4.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases or over 33,000 tonnes to date.

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