With a new year kicking off and extended sales being promoted it's no surprise this time of year often prompts a wardrobe overhaul. But think carefully before you hit the ‘buy’ button.
The negative effects of fabric production are well documented: manufacturing one cotton t-shirt can use as much as 2,720 litres of water, and the fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of global CO2 emissions. The impacts of waste disposal are also stark, with an estimated 59,000 tonnes of unsold clothing dumped in the Atacama desert annually. And that’s not even looking at issues around poorly-paid labour. It’s often a pretty grim picture at every stage in the lifecycle of a garment, and the issues have only amplified as fast fashion brands increase the number of collections they release each year.
That’s not to say buying new should be ruled out altogether. Many great brands have found ways to act as a force for good, from Deploy London and Reformation with their emphasis on recycled and fairtrade fibres, to Toast, which offers free repairs to avoid waste. Eco-favourite Patagonia recently went a step further, donating the company ownership to charitable trusts in an unprecedented move to direct future profits toward combatting climate change.
Another way to change your shopping habits is by embracing second-hand style. Campaigns such as Sustainable Fashion Week and Second Hand September are a great source of tips on seeing potential in preloved clothes. It’s no longer all about trawling charity shops (although that’s still a surefire way to find some gems). Buying and selling online has never been easier, with platforms such as Vinted providing prepaid courier labels to avoid the post office headache. Clothes swaps are also gaining popularity, both in person and via sites like Big Sister Swap. If you shop (or swap) wisely for your new season fix, keeping cosy need not mean heating the planet.
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