Charities reverse retail to address textile waste

In an effort to curb the amount of excess clothing that enters landfills during the holiday season, a number of Australian charities and brands have banded together to encourage Australians to donate their old clothing in the lead up to Christmas.

The Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, and the Australian Red Cross have opened a ‘reverse pop-up’ at Chatswood Chase shopping centre, where centre-goers can drop off unwanted clothing as part of the joint ‘moving the needle’ campaign.

According to the Salvation Army, the average Australian contributes 23 kgs of textile waste each year to the more than 300,000 tonnes of clothing waste generated in Australia annually. Moving the Needle is targeting a 20 per cent reduction in this textile waste by 2022. 

Salvos customer experience manager Aife O’loughlin told Inside Retail textile waste is a global issue, and that there are more pop-ups and different activations planned to further the campaign.

“The pop-up at Chatswood Chase is an empty shop, meaning it starts every single day with absolutely nothing in it,” O’loughlin said.

“Members of the public can come and donate their clothing and we will transform it into a beautiful retail space over the course of the day – showing the great quality items that could have ended up in landfill if they hadn’t been dropped off.

“At the end of the day, the donations are cleared out and shared between Salvos stores, Vinnies and Red Cross, where they will be sold to raise funds to support community programs.”

(L-R) Richard Wood, head of Australian Red Cross; Edwina Morgan, general manager of customer and strategy of Salvos Stores; Sussan Ley, Minister for Environment; Susan Goldie, executive officer of retail transformation at Vinnies NSW.

To date, ethical clothing brands Good Day Girl and Nadia Foti have partnered with the program, and will be helping to promote the initiative to their customer bases. 

Nation Association of charitable recycling organisations chief executive Omer Soker said donating clothes could help to reduce carbon, water and waste emissions by up to 30 per cent. 

“And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your donations make a huge social image, with the proceeds going to social welfare programs to help the most disadvantaged people and communities,” Soker said. 

The pop-up will be active until the 18th of October.

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