Baby & Kids

Clothing Poverty: What It Is and How You Can Help

This Wednesday, 9th June, is UK Clothing Poverty Awareness Day 2021, an event designed to educate the nation about clothing poverty and its devastating effects. Did you know that the COVID-19 crisis has driven almost 700,000 people into poverty in the UK, many of whom don’t have access to clean and suitable clothing? 

If you’re keen to help struggling families wrap up warm while reducing the environmental impact of clothing purchases. This brief guide to clothing poverty in the UK is perfect for you!

What is clothing poverty?


Clothing poverty refers to situations in which people have very little or nothing to wear on a day-to-day basis. The number of people struggling to afford basic clothing is on the rise thanks to COVID-19, and recent statistics from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation show that a staggering 4.2 million children in the UK now live in poverty.

As such, an increasing number of people are experiencing the devastating effects of clothing poverty. For adults, lack of access to decent clothing can cause social isolation and create barriers to gainful employment.

For kids, problems can include:

  • Poor school attendance rates: Kids in poor households often have to attend school in worn-out clothes. This can lead to bullying, self-esteem issues, and repeated absenteeism. In the long term, this could impact a child’s capacity to learn and grow.
  • Loneliness: Kids facing clothing poverty are frequently ostracised by their peers. This can hamper their social development.
  • Health problems: Families unable to afford warm clothing in winter face higher rates of ill health.

What is the solution to clothing poverty?

Have you ever complained about having nothing to wear despite an ever-expanding wardrobe? You’re not alone. About 50% of the average wardrobe is left completely untouched and eventually tossed into a landfill, meaning 300,000 tonnes (or £140 million worth) of clothes go to waste every year. If every person with an overflowing wardrobe donated just a few of their unloved clothes to a good cause, we could easily eliminate the problem of clothing poverty in the UK and address the growing climate crisis.

What can you do to help clothing poverty?

So, how can you tackle clothing poverty on a personal level? Here are a few simple ways to do your bit:

Donate your clothes to a charitable organisation 

There are tonnes of organisations out there ready and waiting to accept your clothing donations. Clothes banks such as the Salvation Army resell, reuse, and recycle old clothes – very handy if there is a facility near you. Other clothes banks include Sense, The Air Ambulance Service, Hope for Tomorrow, and Barnardo’s. There are also many baby banks around the country such as Little Village, who advertise over 100 facilities on their site and accept all kinds of baby and toddler items.  

If there aren’t any local clothing banks nearby, charities including Oxfam and Poverty Child offer free postal services. Simply package up your donations, send them off, and let the organisations do the rest to help reduce clothing poverty!

Buy less clothing and donate money 

Many of us are addicted to fast fashion, with the average household spending £23.40 a week on clothing. To fight the climate crisis, we need to stop throwing money at the latest trends and learn to recycle and reuse our clothing. 

Next time you consider splashing out on a piece of clothing you don’t need, why not donate the cost to your local charity? This way, you can reduce your ecological footprint while helping to fight clothing poverty. Helping those in need feels much better than climate guilt – trust us!

Get involved with Baby Basics

Baby Basics is a registered charity founded in 2009 to help new mothers afford essentials for their little ones. From clothes to toiletries, the people at Baby Basics work hard to deliver the equipment necessary to combat childhood poverty in the UK. The organisation has 40 branches across the country and is always accepting donations of clothes and money, which significantly help in reducing clothing poverty.

Another way to support the cause is to make the most of Y’earn’s wonderful community. We support Baby Basics by offering one-click donations on our checkout page. As restrictions ease, we also aim to donate time to dropping off suitable goods for new mums, so get ready to gift some of your unwanted gear.

Rent out your kids’ clothes

Keen to reduce your impact on the environment while helping other parents afford basics for their kids and reduce clothing poverty? Renting out kids’ clothes can save parents huge amounts of money in the long term and help them feel part of a community. Loopster buys second-hand clothes from parents and rents them out in bundles. If you’re keen to rent clothes yourself, thriving initiatives include thelittleloop, Graceful Changes, and Bundlee

Got non-clothing items to rent out? Support other parents with Y’earn. 

Now that we’ve got clothing poverty covered… Are you looking for more ways to fight ecological destruction and support hardworking parents? At Y’earn, we offer rental services to help parents share the costs of baby equipment. If you have some great baby items stashed in your cupboards or collecting dust in the loft then rent them to a local family. You’ll earn more than selling it second hand as we provide delivery, cleaning and a guarantee so it’s more like a retail experience for the person receiving items. If you’re not doing it for the money you can feel good about helping a local family and can donate the money to one of our charity partners. Check out our post to find out more about our efforts in supporting charities.

Baby basics logo, a charity who helps reduce clothing poverty

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If this is your first visit, hello, let us introduce ourselves. We’re Y’earn and we exist to create more love, less waste. Pretty lofty, right? Well, not really, it’s actually pretty simple. Our aim is to make renting as common as owning so we live more sustainably while helping the community around us.

Y’earn is a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent Baby & Kids items from people in your community or make some cash if you have items you don’t need right now. We’re a sustainable business that plants 🌲, adopts 🐝 and donates to children’s charities.  We’re helping each other and the planet, one rental at a time.

You can read more about how Y’earn works here.

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