The clothing industry is responsible for about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes more energy than aviation and shipping combined according to the United Nations Environment Program.

Fast fashion and some high street stores putting out as many as 24 different collections each year, has led to many regarding clothes as “nearly disposable” goods, and some forecasters have estimated that fashion emissions will grow by 63% by 2030. 

The production of clothing is also very water-intensive. The average water footprint for a pair of jeans and a shirt is 10,000-20,000 litres. India and Pakistan are major suppliers of cotton to the UK, but both countries suffer from very high levels of water scarcity. 

And the impacts just keep on coming… one washing machine load of polyester clothes can release 700,000 microplastic fibres into the environment. It is estimated that half a million tonnes of these microfibres end up in the sea each year with a massive impact on sea life habitats. The Waste and Resources Action Programme in the UK estimates that households send in the region of 300,000 tonnes of clothing to landfill every year.

Clothes on rubbish dump
Clothes on rail

Your challenge: Make a totebag!

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it… is to turn an item of unwanted clothing into a totebag. This is really quick, very easy and goes along way to reducing, reusing and recycling! Please use these handy instructions below, there’s lots of ways to customise your bag so get creative!

  1. Get a tank top, scissors, needle and thread.
  2. Turn inside out and trim off extra length.
  3. Sew the bottom shut and turn the right way out.


  1. Get a tank top and hair tye or rubber band.
  2. Turn inside out and tie the bottom of the shirt.
  3. Turn the right way out and decorate if you wish!

What Groundwork is doing

Environmental education in schools

Groundwork engages with schools, colleges and alternative curriculum providers to deliver vital environmental education. We aim to inspire and motivate learners of all ages, transform educational environments and develop the decision-makers of tomorrow by building resilience and a better understanding of complex issues like climate change. Fast fashion and the associated environmental impacts of it regularly feature in our education work.

We also deliver a huge number of social action projects for young people to engage in. One programme focused on creating an environmentally sustainable clothing brand promoting messages about the environmental impact of our clothing choices. The young people were supported to make a pitch to Marks & Spencer’s and also designed and presented an upcycled clothing fashion show in the St Pancras Station in London.

Eco-challenge competition

Post a photo on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #groundworkecochallenge or email us at showing us your completed challenges.