What’s Going On Here?

It is estimated that up to 50% of the goods we return to retailers are sent to landfill instead of being resold again. But one country has already banned the practice and independent technology platforms are trying to find ways to reduce this.

What Does This Mean?

Whether it’s because the packing or item is damaged or its out of season, products still in a resellable or reusable condition can be thrown away – sometimes it’s because suppliers don’t allow it to be sold more than once!

Thanks to fast fashion, the sort of items being returned are such low value that it’s cheaper for a company to throw it away than deal with the logistics of reselling it; for example, clothing and shoes have to be re-pressed and re-packaged to be sold again.

We return 5-10% of the things we buy in shops but up to 40% of what we order online. With super-relaxed return policies, we’ve got used to ordering lots of different sizes of one item knowing we can send it all back hassle free.

Why Should We Care?

The £5 billion of waste generated through these returns each year contributes 15 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

We’re all pretty aware of the environmental footprint the fashion industry has but knowing that even the clothes we DON’T buy are also ending up in landfill is pretty devastating.

Thankfully this isn’t all retailers and there are some companies like Optoro who are working with retailers like Ikea and Under Armour to reduce their waste to landfill by 70%, using software to make sure goods are more easily resold, recycled or donated to charities like Good360 and Soles4Souls.

Patagonia have a ‘worn wear’ store for repaired products and France have already banned the destruction of damaged or unused returned goods.

Be Curious!

  • Listen to this great, but shocking interview about the issue with environmental journalist, Adria Vasil 
  • Head to Optoro’s site Blinq where previously returned items are available to be bought for heavily discounted prices
  • Think a bit more before you order online and check size guides and customer reviews to see how sizing comes up if you’re unsure which size to get.