Rent your clothes to cut carbon emissions

People must curb obsession with owning goods

Ending an obsession with owning goods could be the secret weapon in meeting climate change targets, a report says.

Large wardrobes of seldom-used clothes are no longer environmentally acceptable and people should instead rent outfits and accessories, according to the Government’s waste watchdog.

The Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) has called for a fifth of all household spending, £148 billion out of an annual total of £732 billion, to be converted to renting by 2020.

Wrap identifies five categories of goods suitable for renting: high-end clothing; glassware and tableware; tools and equipment for house and garden; vehicles; and telephone, audio and recreational equipment. On clothing, the report proposes that hiring should replace 10 per cent of the retail market within ten years.

Liz Goodwin, Wrap’s chief executive, said: ‘It could be quite liberating and free our homes and garages from all that clutter that we rarely use. By hiring, we can also get better party dresses and handbags or a better drill to do some DIY than we would be willing to buy.

Ms Goodwin, who said she owned only one evening dress in her ‘pitifully small wardrobe’, said people needed to understand the environmental cost of ownership. ‘I hope that, in the future, we will look back and be glad that we have moved on from the day when we felt we needed umpteen pairs of shoes,’ she said.

The report, based on research by York University, calculates that better use of resources could deliver 10 per cent of the carbon dioxide savings that Britain has legally committed to making by 2020.


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