Futures Before Fashions

… green is the new black …

Archive for the category “Climate change”

9 Reasons to shop second hand – True Activist

True Activist promote the second hand clothing lifestyle

A good friend recently came across this great article on a site called True Activist about why it is a good thing to shop second hand.. and it sums up perfectly why I have taken on this challenge, and why you should consider making more sensible choices too.. check it out.

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Its been a while.. but i am still going!

So I realise its been a long time between posts and for this I apologise. London life has a way of getting hectic and getting in the way of things! I continue with my challenge, and remain as focused as ever on the task.. only buying second hand clothing for an entire year!

The start of Autumn and the cold chill coming into London suggests that we are in for a very cold winter, and I have been searching the charity shops for a new (second hand) winter coat with a hood. It actually only took me two shop visits before I found the one I wanted, a khaki padded coat with a hood and nice and toasty warm! It cost me a grand total of ÂŁ4.

I never said anything about accessories or shoes when I started this challenge, and I must admit I did recently buy a chunky knitted snood and a new pair of trainers, which despite not being included in my challenge – did make me feel somewhat guilty. As March approaches, the one year mark for my challenge, I have been thinking about what I will do when that date comes around. Despite being a long time fan of charity shops, I have been very very surprised to find that it has been actually very easy to only buy second hand clothing, and that when I walk past shops on the High Street selling shiny leggings, and other ridiculous current ‘trends’ I have not been tempted to wander in – even for a look!

The clothes that I have bought over the last year have a few things in common which set them apart from purchases over past years from high street retailers…

  • They are all second hand/preloved
  • Because of this fact, they have all stood the test of time/wash and have proven their resilience 🙂
  • They are not items that I see every second person walking down the street wearing
  • None have shrunk/gone out of shape/fallen apart when I wash them
  • I wear every single item! Not one of my purchases have sat in the wardrobe unworn since I bought them
  • They were exceptionally affordable
  • They give me a warm fuzzy feeling because I know I have not supported the rampant use of sweatshops, have reduced my carbon footprint, and prevented a few more items becoming unnecessary landfill.

So.. I am thinking about it… and as March draws nearer.. I will consider carefully whether there is any way I could go back to my former life… or whether this one year challenge has been a permanent change in lifestyle. In the meantime, I will resume my researching activities about the fashion industry, textile waste and climate change. Stay with me, you might learn something too 🙂

Where it all began… the Age of Stupid, Fast Fashion and my Pledge…

For some time I have been reflecting on the amount of clothes I seem to buy, wondering why I am always needing more, and pondering why it seems that clothes just don’t last as long as they used to. I wondered whether it was simply that I was tending to buy sale items or from cheaper outlets, and this is why they were wearing out or losing shape after just a few wears, resulting in me needing to throw them out and buy more. I started spending more, with the assumption that buying from bigger labels meant better quality and hopefully longevity. Not so. I just ended up with fewer items AND less money.

When I lived in Australia, it was common practice for me to scour the charity shops and markets for clothing, because it fit with my style, was cheaper, and I would often find unique items which I was unlikely to see walking past me on someone else. On reflection, it always seemed that the pre-loved or recycled items I bought lasted longer too. I guess this is probably because they have been worn, washed, and worn again many times over before I got them – they had already proved their resilience by the time they found a new home in my wardrobe.

When I moved to London, over time, I slowly got sucked into the same way of thinking as many other Londoners, that is – looking the part, wearing the labels, and only ever went into a charity shop if I needed something for a fancy dress party. It’s interesting, though, that in London, if you can pass the item off as “vintage” as opposed to “used” or “pre-loved”, they will happily triple the price and your money goes into the pocket of some hipster instead of to one of the many charities supporting the needy.

What I had also realised though, is that after a while, the unique aspects of the way that I had previously dressed were less often seen, and slowly but surely I began to resemble many of the 8 million or so other people wearing the “London Uniform” and conforming to what is a very generic and superficial sense of style, image and value.

I have recently watched a film called “The Age of Stupid”, set in the future we watch on as an archivist looks through film and news footage from 2008 in an attempt to understand why humankind did nothing to address the issue of climate change, despite all of the warning signs. In the words of William Nicholson, writer of Shadowlands and Gladiator, “I hate this film. I felt as if I was watching all my own excuses for not doing anything about climate change being stripped away from me.”.

I started to think more seriously about climate change and wonder about my contribution as it relates to my clothing dilemma. I know to recycle, I minimise paper waste, and I buy long-life light bulbs. What I didn’t know what exactly how my clothing choices impacted so significantly on my carbon footprint.

I started by doing some research. Overconsumption is a major factor in climate change. We buy much more clothing today than we did a generation ago, and too much of it is what is known as “disposable fashion”. Shops like Primark, selling low-cost clothing, are going from strength to strength in the current climate or austerity, with their stores becoming bigger each time a new one opens. These types of brands are careful to point out on their websites the ways in which they are trading ethically through supporting their workers in overseas countries, and through their use of biodegradable packaging such as paper bags instead of plastic. What is less clear is the end result of millions of people buying these cheap items which quickly become un-wearable and are designed to worn a few times before being thrown out and replaced.

In 2006, a report called “Recycling of Low Grade Clothing Waste” for Defra found that around 1.5 – 2 million tonnes of clothing and textiles waste are discarded every year in the UK . Of this only 16% (300,000 tonnes) is currently reused or recycled with 63% (1.2 million tonnes) ending up in landfill.

What we wear, how and where it is made, and what happens to it when we are done with it all have potential to have either a positive or negative impact on our communities and our futures.

I made a pledge that I would commit to a year of buying only second-hand clothing, whilst at the same time – researching as much as I could about the impact of the fashion and textiles industry on climate change and sharing this anyone that will listen. This is where it all began.

 

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