Monday 30 September 2019

Sustainable September

"It’s estimated that more than two tonnes of clothing are bought each minute in the UK, more than any other country in Europe. That amount produces nearly 50 tonnes of carbon emissions – the same as driving 162,000 miles in a car.

New research by Oxfam shows just how polluting the UK’s consumption of new clothes really is. In one month alone, the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK was greater than flying a plane around the world 900 times."

September has been a brilliant month for raising awareness of our impact on the environment - between the climate strikes and "secondhand" or "sustainable" September, it seems more of us than ever are trying to do our bit to lessen our impact on the planet. However, it's important that we remember that we make hundreds of decisions that can impact our environment every single day, and our consumption is a huge factor in that.

It's very much normalised in Western culture to buy a LOT - more is more, and I used to be really guilty of buying things I didn't need just for the sake of having something new, because it was a "bargain", or even out of boredom. I didn't even stop to consider the impact fast fashion can have on its workers or our planet. Yet the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world and every week 11 million items of clothing end up in landfill. When you consider that it can take over 15,000 litres of water to grow the cotton to make one pair of jeans, let alone the water that is polluted to dye them using toxic chemicals,  how are we so used to thinking of fashion as disposable?

Running with the successful Oxfam campaign of "secondhand September", I wanted to share some tips on buying secondhand and some of my personal favourite thrifted purchases.

My favourite tips when buying second hand clothing:
- If you want something specific, get on eBay. I recently accidentally dyed a favourite black and white kimono pink due to a washing faux pas. It was an absolute wardrobe staple for me that I've owned (and loved) for about five years, but when I couldn't wash the pink out I managed to track down the exact same item on eBay! (I now keep the black and pink version for just around the house as I still can't bear to part with it...) You can also try Depop, and there are lots of other apps and websites including Facebook marketplace.
- If you want a *type* of item, check out charity shops. Charity shops are such a great thing: you're buying an item you (hopefully) love, at a good price, saving an item from landfill rather than buying new, and the proceeds are going to charity! You really can't lose. Charity shops are great for when you need clothing in the next size up for a little one, or a bag for a wedding, or to refresh the tired knitwear that you've worn to pieces. However you are unlikely to happen to walk to your local shop and just stumble across the very same Lucy and Yak mustard pinafore dress that's on your wishlist - or worse, you might find THE ONE but it's not in your size. Others also love browsing at car boot sales, and I've been to a few really successful clothes swap parties too (I have a friend who has a similar style/is a similar size and we always give each other first dibs on clothes after a wardrobe clear out which is a great way to try new things for free and keep a fresh feeling wardrobe.)
- Try things on when you can, or look up brand size measurements as they can be drastically different. Most online sellers are happy to provide clothing measurements which makes buying online much easier.
- For the same reason: don't just browse your "usual" size. All items come up differently - I can think of second hand items in my wardrobe ranging between six sizes depending on the desired fit, cut and style of the item.
- Check the quality of the item - when buying online make sure there are sufficient pictures and look at them closely. Plus, even charity shops that take great care can miss things, or items can be damaged in the changing room. It's always best to look closely!

My personal favourite secondhand buy of this year is this pair of Topshop Mom jeans that I got in mint condition for £7 on eBay!

Charity shops are great for changes in circumstance too. Most of my maternity wear was second hand as it's so expensive to buy new. As I'm a breastfeeding mama, I've also got a new love for shirts (which never really had any place on my wardrobe beforehand). They're easy to feed in without needing to half undress, and they can look just as good if not better when you buy them from the men's section giving loads more choice.

I've had loads of luck both in charity shops and online for clothing for Eden. As babies grow so quickly you can buy items that have been barely (or never) worn for a fraction of their RRP.  Some favourites include beautiful JoJo Maman Bébé outfits I'd never be able to afford new, stretchy footed trousers that fit Eden's cloth nappies well and are brilliant in the sling (which can make trouser legs ride up). Hand me downs are amazing for babies too. My baby wrap itself was given to us by a friend, who had bought it from a charity shop prior to that - and it's our number one piece of baby equipment, Eden loves it.

Have you been partaking in secondhand or sustainable September? I'd love to hear about your own favourite second hand purchases and favourite ways to shop.

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