Pictured at The Donate Don’t Waste Charleville launch at the Charleville Park Hotel were Dermot McGilloway, National Retail Manager SVP, Sarah O’Connor, Clean Technology Centre and Mary Fleming, CRNI. Photo: Alan Place

Donate, don’t waste: New programme for circular textiles economy

We’re a bunch of wasters. Every year over 68,000 tonnes of textiles are discarded by households and commercial users as a result of a combination of faddish fast fashion, changing trends or people no longer needing the items.

The irony is the current trend towards minimalism encourages us to own less, yet fast fashion is prolific.

Once you’ve finished with them, clothing and home textiles still have value. Currently, about 14,500 tonnes of textiles are reused by Irish Charity Shops Association (ICSA) members – but it’s not enough. If we could reuse just 15% of the textiles we’re currently discarding, there could be environmental savings of over 100,000 tonnes of carbon.

A new pilot programme called Donate Don’t Waste is being rolled out in Ireland, starting in Charleville, designed to help us reduce textile waste and to feed into a circular economy instead.

Part of an innovative project from Community Resources Network Ireland (CRNI), the Donate Don’t Waste programme will help understand attitudes and behaviours around unwanted textiles. What are we throwing out and why? What can be donated and reworn, or used again and how?

The Charleville pilot for Donate Don’t Waste will allow information to be shared on where, how and what to donate, and to make it easier through dedicated collection points and door-to-door collections.

Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Enterprise: Innovation for a Circular Economy grant-aid programme, the project allows textiles to be kept in circulation for longer; save resources and to create local jobs and training opportunities.

Charity shops are the main drivers of textile reuse and ICSA’s members include Vincent’s charity shops, who support the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP), the project’s charity partner.

Christine Costelloe, CRNI’s Circular Textiles Research Lead, said: “We’re delighted that there are so many ways for Charleville community members, businesses, schools and community groups to get involved and positively contribute to environmental, social and economic change.”

Dermot McGilloway, National Retail Development Manager for SVP, said: “At Vincent’s charity shops, we are an essential link in the circular economy, enabling local donors to pass on pre-loved items for reuse in our local communities. We are committed to tackling the twin problems of poverty and deprivation on the one hand and the excessive consumption of fast fashion on the other.”

Take the survey on unwanted clothing and home textiles at donatecharleville.ie. Respondents could win one of six €50 Shop Local gift vouchers. Community members can donate clean and dry unwanted clothing and home textiles at existing collection points, including charity shops, at new collection points and door-to-door collections in some neighbourhoods. Ballyhoura Development CLG and Clean Technology Centre at MTU and are helping with door-to-door collections, which will benefit Vincent’s Charleville.

Charleville businesses can host a textile collection box and share Donate Don’t Waste information with customers. Donations will benefit Vincent’s Charleville. Participating businesses will be on the donatecharleville.ie map and promoted on CRNI’s social media channels @CRNIreland.

Schools & community groups can host a textile collection box, share the survey and Donate Don’t Waste information with students, families, group members and volunteer for flyer drop offs and donation pickups. To get involved, visit donatecharleville.ie, contact info@crni.ie or ring 087-1735184, follow #DonateDontWaste on social media.