Coronavirus lock-down led to spike in clothing donations

A Re-use Center (Uuskasutuskeskus) outlet.
A Re-use Center (Uuskasutuskeskus) outlet. Source: ERR

The peak of the coronavirus pandemic saw a spurt in recycling of clothes, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported Sunday night.

The Re-use Center (Uuskasutuskeskus), a not-for-profit engaging in recycling and second-hand sales, itself had to close its doors during the March to May emergency situation the government declared in response to the coronavirus pandemic, precisely at a time when more interest in donating old clothes emerged – likely the result of people spending more time at home during the peak of the pandemic. 

Growth in recycling clothes continued through summer, AK reported, with around 20 percent more donated in June than in the same month in 2019. 

"We noticed an increase in donor activity somewhere in late April or early May. It looks like it was a time when people had been home and had time to clear out their closets,"  said Diana Paakspuu, Recycling Center director. 

Second-hand clothing chain Humana saw a sharp drop in donations in April, early on in the pandemic, followed by a 25 percent uptick in the spring to summer period compared with 2019, the store says. 

Longer-term trends have been towards growth in any case, Humana's communications manager, Mari-Helene Kaber, says, partly as the public is becoming increasingly environmentally aware. 

"I still think it's becoming more and more popular. For many people, the environmental issue is one which is close to their hearts, because if you want to be environmentally friendly, then new clothes are one of the items which carry a large [environmental] footprint," she said. 

Nonetheless, a significant proportion of clothing and other textiles end up in landfill sites and other waste disposal areas, though EU regulations will require such refuse to be collected separately, from 2025. 

Harri Moora, senior expert at the Stockholm Environmental Institute (Stockholmi Keskkonnainstituut), said Estonia is not fully ready for this change yet. 

"The main problem will be what to do with this clothing waste, since in this respect there are no major options open in Europe as a whole, still fewer in Estonia," Moora said, adding that the issue needed to be addressed already, with pan-Nordic and pan-Baltic collection systems and partners ideal.  


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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