Recycling outdoor clothing and equipment
For gear that is beyond use or repair, recycling may be an option.
Unfortunately, the Wear and Care survey found that in the UK we are much more likely to throw our outdoor clothing out than recycle it. However, there are lots of options for recycling many of these items. We list some ideas below.
Which companies offer recycling services?
Alpkit - will take any brand.
Patagonia - take-back service for end-of-life items; will rehome, repurpose or recycle. But has to be returned in store and there are a limited number of stores in the UK.
Páramo - take-back service for end-of-life items; will rehome, repurpose or recycle. Páramo will give you £50 off your next item in return (although we remain sceptical of take-back schemes that incentivise more buying).
Rab and Lowe Alpine collect used down products for reuse but only at their headquarters in Derbyshire.
Rohan's 'Gift your Gear' initiative donates old outdoor gear to charity groups.
Vaude no longer accepts items for recycling. The company says on its website: “it makes little sense to build up your own recycling system as a single brand – it will always remain a niche without saving significant amounts of resources. There is already an effective industry that specialises in the collection, sorting and recycling of textiles. Building networks and working together is our goal here.”
Other options for recycling outdoor gear
Clothes and shoes – The Recycle Now website allows you to check local options for donating or recycling shoes and clothing by entering your postcode. Unfortunately, blended fabrics (e.g. 50% cotton, 50% polyester), so often used in outdoor clothing, are harder to recycle.
Camping pans – Recycle Now lists local Household Waste Recycling Centres, as well as charity shops, accepting pots and pans.
Gas canisters – Some manufacturers accept empty canisters for recycling. If not, check your local council website, as some Household Waste Recycling Centres take them. Make sure to burn off any remaining gas and mark them as empty before recycling them.
Other gear – It’s worth checking whether your gear manufacturer can recycle your item for you. There are also a couple of great independent initiatives in the UK.
Green Peak Gear accepts old climbing gear for reuse and recycling via a number of climbing centres in the north of England. Upcycled products from dog collars to hanging planters are sold by sister company Scavenger, based in Sheffield. Profits are donated to BMC Access and Conservation Trusts.
Dirtbags accept items such as tents, rucksacks, jackets and harnesses via post. It makes them into new products such as laptop cases, bum bags and frame bags for bikes.
You can also make things like water-resistant sacks from old tent panels.