A new campaign called Love Your Clothes is encouraging us to get more from our clothes and keep them out of the bin when we no longer want them. As the end of term draws closer, it’s time to start thinking about school uniforms.
For most families, this is not just an issue of waste but also budget: we spend around £52 million every year on school clothes alone, and the speed at which our children grow out of them seems way faster than the rate at which they wear out, despite the bashing they get in the playground.
Around 350,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year – a massive £140 million worth – so what can we do about it?
For a start, we can make school uniforms last as long as possible: buy them large, take up hems and sleeves and then let them down (or out) as our children grow. And holes can always be patched – most uniforms come with a square of spare fabric precisely for this purpose.
But schools and parents can do even more: second hand uniform sales generate vital funds while providing low-cost uniforms for the school community. For secondary schools in particular, where the average price of a new uniform is £285, pre-owned ones can really make a difference. And according to research, almost six in ten adults with a child aged 4-9 have bought or been given second hand uniform at some point – so it’s more common than you might think.
‘The uniform stall at our summer fete is always popular with parents’, says Hazel Capper, chair of an east London school’s Parent Teacher Association, ‘and it helps raise money for the school. We sell donated items as well as lost property without names that accumulate during the year. It’s a great excuse for a clear out.’