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Last Updated: Friday December 19 2008 10:27 GMT

Ricky investigates the cheap clothes crisis

Ricky at a landfill site

Nowadays it's easy to look stylish on a budget, as loads of shops sell the top trends at low prices.

But experts say that cheap throw-away fashion is harming the environment.

Ricky went to investigate what happens to all the old clothes we chuck out.


"Spending the day surrounded by rubbish didn't sound like fun to me.

But that's exactly what I did this week for an investigation into recycling clothes.

Landfill site
I went to a landfill site in south London where lots of our household waste ends up.

Truck

There was everything from plastic bags to scrap food, but I also came across lots of items of clothes.

I spent a couple of hours walking around the site with one of my Newsround team mates, trying to hold my breath!

Every couple of minutes a rubbish truck turned up and emptied all of its rubbish onto the site.

I was surprised to see so many shoes, jeans and even suitcases filled with clothes just lying around.

Suitcase full of clothes
Recycling experts say that landfill sites are overflowing with clothes and they are clogging up landfill and taking ages to decompose.

The rise is being blamed on millions of people being addicted to budget fashion.

Experts say that stores like Primark and Matalan are fuelling the increase in cheaply-made clothes.

Break down

Most fast fashion items are made from man-made materials which are often tough to recycle.

Man-made material is not natural like wool or cotton, instead it takes lots of different materials and chemicals to produce.

Ricky recycling clothes
That means it takes a really long time to break down in the ground with the rest of our waste.

As a result, the amount of textile waste found at council tips has risen from 7% to 30% in just five years.

Charity shops

So what should we do with our old clothes?

Instead of throwing your clothes in the bin, experts want more people to take their clothes to charity shops or clothes banks.

Those types of places will then pass your clothes onto people who can use them again.

Children holding clothes
I met children at a school in London to see if they recycled their clothes.

Most of them said they did and lots of them used the special clothing banks at their school."

Ricky