Most of your online returns go to landfill

When you order a clothing haul, it can be a pretty big gamble for what you’re going to like, what’s going to fit, or what looks the same as it did online.

Once you’ve tried them all on, you take out what you want to keep, then put the rest back into the packaging to return to the brand, thinking that they’ll just resell them to someone else.

Well, you may be surprised to find out that the last part doesn’t always happen.

Though you may think that retailers take back your returns then sell them on, the truth isn’t always so pretty.

Unfortunately, the majority of online returns go to landfill, or they’re incinerated.

As you can imagine, it’s pretty devastating for the environment.

British Vogue reported that in 2020, it’s estimated that 2.6 million tonnes of returns — including brand new, unworn items — went to landfill in the US.

2.6 million tonnes of returns in landfill in the US alone. 🤯

Let that sink in for a minute.

That’s just for one country in one year. Now try to imagine how much that could be globally, over several years.

But the issue isn’t just that brand new — or even used — clothes are ending up in landfill. It’s also about all of the resources that were used to make the items in the first place, completely gone to waste.

It takes 3,781 litres of clean water to make a single pair of jeans. That’s a lot of litres. It’s the equivalent of more than 33 kg of carbon emissions, which is the same as driving a car for 70 miles.

But knowing all of this begs the question, why on earth would we just throw these clothes away?

Why do online returns go to landfill?

The majority of online returns go to landfill because it’s usually cheaper to throw the products away and make new ones, than it is to employ someone to check every item over, then mend or clean any damaged or dirty items.

As a result, items that are brand new end up in the landfill pile along with any items that aren’t fit to be resold.


How can we stop clothing returns from going to landfill?

While we can’t stop it from happening altogether, there are some small things we can do to prevent so many clothes from going to landfill.

1. Read the reviews

We all know that most clothes, accessories, bags or shoes don’t always look the same in real life as they did online.

It’s hard to decipher what a product looks like from one photo of a model wearing it. You can’t really tell what the material would feel like, no matter how closely you zoom in.

It’s also hard to tell what the colour will look like in real life, because nine times out of ten it’s not the same. Then there’s the matter of how it will fit your body shape, which could be different to the models — we could go on.

Your best bet is to read the reviews.

Not every brand has reviews on their website and even when they do, they’re usually unhelpful.

A 4 star rating and a review that says ‘loved this top’ won’t tell me if it will be scratchy on my skin or whether the pockets were real or not! 🙄

There are so many reviews about customer service or delivery, but what we want to know is about the clothes, shoes and accessories themselves.

If you can’t find the reviews, try looking on Desyr. They have super detailed and honest reviews for any brand on their platform and they’re always about the products themselves.

They also have real customer photos, so you can see what products look like on all shapes and sizes, not just one model body type. 👏

2) Check what size to order

One of the reasons that we over order clothes online is because we’re not sure what size we need.

You could be one size in one shop, another size in another shop, and a totally different size in a third shop! It really is frustrating. 😒

Sometimes the website will recommend you to size up or down themselves. If not, you should be able to find it in the reviews. The girls are good at letting you know those kinds of details.

3) Shop more mindfully

With online shopping at our fingertips, it’s so easy to see something we want, then have it ordered less than a minute later. But this can lead to a lot of impulse purchases that we regret by the time they show up on our doorsteps.

Try to avoid those impulse purchases. We know it can be easier said than done, but here’s a little trick we like to use that keeps our spending down.

When you see something you like, make a note of it in your notes app. Then wait a couple of weeks before buying it.

If you can’t stop thinking about it and looking at it during those weeks, go for it. You want it and you deserve it.

If you ended up completely forgetting about it and now you’re onto the next thing, then congratulations! You saved your time from having to order and return it, your money, all the emissions it takes to transport it back and forth and saved it from most likely ending up in landfill.

3) Keep clothes clean and intact

When you’re trying on clothes that you’ve ordered, always make sure that you’re treating them carefully.

Avoid getting makeup stains on them, because that can be a one way ticket to the dump.

If the zipper’s jammed, don’t try to force it down. If it breaks, it just becomes another item destined for landfill.

4) Write reviews and share photos of the items

We’ve talked about reading the reviews, but what about writing them?

If you’ve ordered something online — whether you loved it or you’re sending it back — don’t forget to leave a review!

It really helps out the girls who are looking to buy it after you.

It could be anything from a dress that you wore as a guest to a wedding, a top that you ordered and immediately sent back, to a pair of joggers that you can never take off because they’re too comfy.

Desyr rewards you for writing reviews with unlimited access to discounts and prizes! 😍

When you write a review on Desyr, you get Desyr Coins. You can then spend these Coins to unlock discount codes, or enter competitions to win prizes from top brands.

The fashion reviews platform

Desyr (pronounced desire) is making online shopping fun and social. Instead of sitting and scrolling for hours on hundreds of shopping apps, just head over to Desyr!

It’s a safe space for women of all shapes and sizes to shop and talk about clothes.

You can read all the honest thoughts and opinions left by women just like you and see what they looked like in their own pics.

Plus it doesn’t hurt to be given prizes and discount codes on tap.

Join our community of clothes-loving women over on Desyr today 🥰






One response to “Most of your online returns go to landfill”

  1. floralsurf Avatar

    Your article was articulate. I appreciated how you presented the information in a easy-to-understand manner. The illustrations you used were very helpful, and your prose is engaging. Thank you for publishing such an enlightening article.

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