A couple of years back if anyone had mentioned a night, a concert or any occasion I could get dressed up, I would be straight onto misguided, pretty little thing and boohoo in the search for a new outfit which would cost next to nothing for the occasion- and just that occasion. Id buy a cheap dress for a night out then throw it straight to the back of my wardrobe with no intention of wearing it again.
Funnily enough it wasn’t until I started working in retail and my job became selling clothes that I started to really think about; where all this material comes from? How is it made? Where does all this go if people don’t buy it? What happens to it when people do buy it? I would have to push people to buy 2 pairs of jeans when they only needed and wanted one (if even), and they would rarely turn it down as the saving they’d be making was hard to resist.
I had reservations about writing on this topic in the fears I would come across as a complete hypocrite, I love shopping I love fashion and I still work in fashion retail; it’s still my job to persuade people to purchase clothing. However, I am making steps to shop in a more sustainable way, and if everyone took a couple of small steps it would make a massive difference.
According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, which is a charity registered in the UK, which aims to inspire a generation to re-think, re-design & build a positive future through the framework of a circular economy the production of textiles produces 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas every year. The United Nations also estimates that 10 percent of total global emissions come from the fashion industry. Now think of the amount of online clothing retailers you see selling dresses for a fiver, bikinis for a pound and hosting sample sales where you could get several new outfits for a tenner. These companies are still making profit off this , so just imagine the amount of stock they’re producing, and how cheaply they are making it What I’m trying to get across here is not that we should all stop buying clothes and just wear the same things we’ve been wearing for years, are worn out, don’t fit any more or we simply don’t like anymore. That’s OK – Three in five of our garments still end up in landfills or incinerators within a year. That’s not OK. Why do we spend our money on clothes to throw them in the bin after having them not even a year? Probably because we didn’t spend a lot of money on it and we probably didn’t spend a lot of money on it because we didn’t like it that much. Can you see where im going with this?
You can shop more sustainably and still have fun with fashion. If you really want something that’s slightly more expensive, save up and get it. You’ll get your money’s’ worth if you really like it, and chances are if it’s a little more expensive, it’ll be better quality, so you’ll have it much longer and it won’t end up in the bin. If you really need to buy an outfit you’re only going to wear a couple of times, try eBay or Depop, borrow off a friend. If you do want to clear out some of your old clothes sell it online, it’s a great way to make extra money and it means less clothes going to landfill but failing this simply recycling your old items is every bit as easy as throwing them in the bin but much less damaging. There are clothes banks everywhere nowadays and a lot of local councils now have ways to recycle textiles from your home in weekly collections.
I just think it’s important that everyone becomes a little more aware of this issue. Be more mindful of what you’re buying, where you’re getting it from and if you’re going to actually use it. I recently listened to a very interesting podcast on this on BBC sounds app, it’s called Fashion Fix with Charli Howard. She talks about sustainable fashion along with other relevant issues in the fashion world. It opened my eyes even more, if everyone makes a few small changes it will lead to a really great change.
Anna Tilley is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter – @annatilley_, Instagram – @annatilleyx and Linked In: Anna Tilley