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Courtesy of Getty Images, Martin Bernetti

France to offer cold hard cash to repair clothes instead of binning them

In an effort to reduce fast fashion waste, the country will offer citizens up to €25 to mend clothes instead of chucking them out

By now, we all know that the planet is plummeting towards environmental catastrophe, with quick-to-disintegrate fast fashion clothing and the industry that creates it a major culprit. Need proof? Just look at the 60,000 tonne-mountain of noxious, discarded clothing that is visible from space.

Now, France is taking steps to combat the supercharged way we consume clothes, with the country recently announcing it will pay all citizens a “repair bonus” for taking their clothes in to get fixed rather than turfing them in the bin. 

Beginning in October, citizens who bring their clothes in for repairs will be able to claim back a €6 to €25 bonus, with the total payment depending on the complexity of the repair. All bonuses will be paid from a €154m sustainability fund the government has set aside for the next five years.

By enticing people to take their to get fixed, the government hopes to cut fast fashion waste throughout the country and encourage customers to purchase more “virtuous” products. In other words: the government is begging you to fix your clothes, rather than continuously over-consuming the products of fast fashion sites like Shein or Boohoo.

“It could encourage exactly the people who have bought, for example, shoes from a brand that makes good-quality shoes or likewise good-quality ready-to-wear to want to have them fixed instead of getting rid of them,” explained France’s junior ecology minister Bérangère Couillard, who announced the scheme in Paris. “That is exactly the objective, to create a circular economy for shoes and textiles so that products last longer, because in government we believe in the second life of a product.”

She also shared hopes that the programme will increase employment for French tailors and shoemakers. “The goal is to support those who carry out repairs,” she explained, while inviting all repair shops to join in on the scheme for free.

According to Refashion – a French eco-organisation spearheading the programme – 3.3 million pieces of clothing, shoes, and household linen were sold in France in 2022. Meanwhile, over 92 million tonnes of textile waste ends up in landfills worldwide each year. With Paris as the world's fashion capital, here’s to hoping that other countries will follow suit.