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Re-use or refuse? (How to Dispose of Old Uniforms Responsibly)

30/05/2019

Do you know how much household refuse is sent to landfills by Aucklanders alone each year?

It’s not 10,000 or 20,000 tonnes. According to NZ Herald, it’s a whopping 200,000 tonnes! And that’s just Auckland. Globally, in 2017, the world sent over 70 million tonnes of clothing to landfill.

Also, during the Christmas holidays, the number of items sent for recycling increases by 20%.

“But chucking out my old uniforms for recycling wouldn’t cause any harm, right?” Wrong!

According to our research, the Garment industry is the second largest polluter in the world, next to the oil industry. Textiles makes up for roughly 25% of all landfill. And we all know what landfill is - it’s basically a huge hole in the ground where waste gets dumped. It might not be an issue for the countries with a larger a geographical area; but for us Kiwis, it could be an issue.

Do you want a clean green space for your future generations? If yes, then you need to be careful about how you dispose of your old uniforms.

Here's what you can do with old uniforms:

1. Donate Your Old Uniforms to Charity

Someone could have used the uniform that you just chucked out for recycling. Donating uniforms is the smartest way to reduce waste and help someone at the same time. But before you donate your clothes to charity, make sure they’re all washed and pleasant-smelling. Be considerate of the future owner of your old uniforms.

At Arrow Uniforms, we strive to dispose of uniforms in a way that is sustainable. We have a number of local organisations that we donate to, including; Dress for Success, The Salvation Army, The Koha Shed and the SPCA. New Zealand Red Cross is also a great organisation that accepts used and old clothes. They have donation centers all across New Zealand. Alternatively, you can call your local Red Cross shop to arrange a donation.

2. Protect Your Brand

You need to protect your brand if you're a big company with more than 250 employees or if, due to the nature of your business, you hire a lot of casual staff. Especially if you own a hospitality business, you’re used to seeing new bartenders behind the bar every weekend or a whole bunch of foreign waiters who are on a working-holiday visa.

The point is, if your company’s uniform goes into the wrong hands, someone can misuse it. Regardless of the industry or organisation, if you employ a lot of new people frequently, anyone can impersonate a staff-member and infiltrate your property with ulterior motives and this could pose a serious security risk like theft, terrorism and destruction of property.

That’s why wearing a military uniform if you’re just a civilian is illegal in some countries. The United States makes it a federal offence under The Stolen Valour Act. Same goes for impersonating a police officer.

What’s the solution then?

Well, there are shredding services available which will ensure your company’s logos and badges are destroyed. However, this waste could still head for landfill. Alternatively, you can remove your brand’s badges from your uniforms by using de-branding technologies and then donate them.

3. Reuse Options

Old uniforms can be reused in a variety of ways. The first option could be to cut them into small pieces and use them as cleaning rags. Probably not an environment-friendly way, but it will save lots of brand new cleaning rags from being used and eventually going into landfill.

Another option could be Upcycling. It basically means to adapt and deconstruct old uniforms to create new, high-quality uniforms (or other items) that are more suitable for the purpose. An airline company once changed the uniforms of 11,000 employees. As a result of this, there were thousands of kilos of clothing material ready for disposal. The company came up with a smart solution: Upcycling!

They are planning to use the old uniform material to make purses, shoes, carpets and even composite material to be used in their own aircrafts.

More and more companies are getting inclined towards eco-friendly and sustainable options for disposing of old uniforms. Remember, re-use is always more sustainable than recycling. So, as much as possible, try to re-use old uniform materials - for the future of our planet and the next generation.

This article was brought to you by Arrow Uniforms New Zealand.

From Healthcare to Chef’s Wear, we can provide the best quality and long lasting uniforms for your staff.

Our design team can work with you to create customised garments which are unique to you and your brand.

Get in touch today for a complete solution for your apparel needs.

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