Being green and ethical isn’t always easy. When I start thinking about my impact on the world and the ‘right’ way of doing things, the possibilities are seemingly endless. I’d like to preface this by saying that I feel like I do what is right for me. I could probably do better, but leading a greener, more sustainable life is a work in progress. Deciding not to buy new clothes is just one of the ways I’ve tried to make a positive change, so here’s a little about why…
At the end of 2011, I started thinking a lot more about my buying habits – particularly in regards to clothes. Like many a 20-something woman, I was caught up in the world of ‘fast fashion’, buying cheap clothing just because I could. It was there, I was bored and I could get 5 dresses for £50. Awesome!(?)
But in the back of my mind, I knew that this must come at a higher price somewhere down the supply chain and that the impact of mass-production on a global scale must be damaging the environment (reading this book confirmed it). I also realised that my consumption left me feeling kind of empty – I had no connection to these belongings at all – and that when I came to clear out my wardrobe, as I do every few months, what I was getting rid of was often unworn and always from cheap high street shops.
At the same time, I was developing a burning desire to learn to make and alter my own clothes (handy if you’re 5’3″ with odd proportions and nothing fits), so I took some night classes and got more confident reading patterns and using my sewing machine.
In January 2012, I made a resolution to stop buying new clothes, shoes and accessories (with the exception of underwear, nightwear, a pair of trainers and a suit – but only if I really need to replace what I already have, which I haven’t yet). My plan was to make my own clothes from scratch, but 16 months down the line, I have made a grand total of two things. FAIL.
Instead I found another way to shop – secondhand. I’ve always been a fan of charity shops, ever since sixth form college when I found my first vintage dress. They kept me clothed during my lean, unemployed times living in Scotland. And I once scored a £200 Coast dress for a wedding for £20 – need I say more?