Blaise Tapp column: Fashionable recycling Mad Max-style?

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There was a time in the not so distant past when recycling was the preserve of bearded, open-toed sandal-wearing types who knitted their own yogurt.

These days, everybody is at it, as separating and (sometimes) washing our reusable waste is ingrained in the public psyche, especially now that our ‘normal’ bins are half the size they used to be and, in most cases emptied once a fortnight.

We are also becoming more particular about the packaging that staples such as leek and paprika pork sausages come in and the general public now seems to have declared war on single use plastic after David Attenborough made a nation experience collective guilt after showing the effects of pollution on sealife.

Three years after the 5p charge was introduced, we have embraced the concept of taking our own carrier bags to the shops, so much so that we feel the need to explain that we have hundreds at home, should we occasionally forget to take them with us.

But recycling is so much more than reusing your quark pots or making sure that you take the cellophane off the Sunday magazines that you haven’t had time to read before chucking them in the green bin.

The recycling of clothes is another way that many are doing their bit for the planet. Being the first born, I largely escaped the curse of 1980s’ hand-me-downs but my little brother didn’t, as he had to make do with gems such as my well worn C&A ski jacket, a garment that there wasn’t really much of a need for in Stockport.

In recent decades there has been an explosion in our appetite in what is now known as vintage clothes or somebody else’s old clothes if we are sticking to using plain English. Charity shops are as popular now than at any time as there are a significant number of us who don’t like to throw anything away.

Despite this shift in attitudes, the UK is still a wasteful nation - last year we sent 235 million items of clothing to landfill tips, a mind boggling figure which is largely due to the fact that we are Europe’s number one consumer of clothes.

It is estimated that each of us buys 26.7kg of new clothes annually.

Last week, a report by MPs urged the fashion industry to do more to save the planet as it is a significant contributor to emissions.

Politicians are worried about cheap and fast fashion and want the £28 billion UK fashion industry to produce better quality garments that last for longer.

As much as I would like to blame dust nibbling fashionistas for global warming, we can keep our clothes for longer - I own several shirts that are older that any member of One Direction.

Mrs Tapp is among the hordes of people who spends her free time getting rid of stuff that our children have grown out of via a social meeting swapping and selling page. The trouble is that she actually picks up more stuff than we sell or give away. Michael Gove, who has moved onto the environment after steering us towards Brexit, wants councils to open up more landfill sites to the public so they can sell what others have thrown away.

It may sound all very Mad Max but it is the obvious next step in our bid to get us recycling even more than we are.