Why take part in a no buy year? We live in a world where we are bombarded by sales and images of people with the perfect outfit for every season. Shopping is a hobby not a necessity. The average British woman spends £1000 on her wardrobe per year (that’s easily return flights to the other side of the world). But the truth is most of us tend to wear the same 5 outfits on loop! Whilst lurking in our wardrobes are on average 152 pieces of clothing. That’s £2400 worth of unworn clothes! (That’s an epic road trip around America) Other estimates reckon we wear 20% of our wardrobe 20% of the time.
I have far too many clothes. I’m pretty much a nomad that spends most of my time living out of a hand luggage sized rucksack. I’ve learned to be pretty minimalist over the years. Yet every time I return to England I’ve inevitably got more clothes than when I left and there’s not much room left in my ever decreasing luggage.
What’s the problem?
So what’s the issue? It’s not hurting anyone surely, just clogging up our rooms and emptying our wallet’s. But it’s not just a waste of money, it’s also a drain on the environment. Cheap fabrics like polyester, nylon, polyamide and acrylic fibres can omit tiny pollutants into water systems. And you thought it was just plastics we had to worry about (sorry)!
Then there’s the social and economic problems of workshops in third world countries producing the fast fashion we are consuming. On one side it’s providing jobs but many cheap clothing brands have appalling conditions and substandard wages. If anyone of us actually saw where some of our clothes came from we wouldn’t be buying them and thereby supporting this industry.
Then there’s the waste. Textiles filling up landfills is an unintended consequence of fast fashion, as more people are buying more clothes and don’t keep them as long as they used to.
It’s a global crisis fuelled by retailers tempting shoppers with constant new “must have” outfits to keep the profits rolling in on mass produced, low value and often, low quality clothing. It’s a bugger of a situation to be in.
What’s the solution?
“As consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy” Emma Watson
So what can we do? There’s a growing movement of people buying less or more sustainably sourced clothing or even going without buying new clothes all together. Search #nobuyyear or #fashionrevolution on Instagram and you can see it’s not a small movement. Sure that causes issues on the high street if it gains traction. A few household names might go out of business, but do we really want them to stick around if they’re simply perpetuating the problems caused by fast fashion? Or do we want to spend our money making the world a little less sh*t?
So no new clothes for a year for me. Will I make it? Who knows, but I’ll give it a bloody good go. Follow to keep updated!
Update September 2020; So how did I get on? It was all going really well for a while, I even gave up eating beef (which became hard work when travelling in Mexico and Colombia!). I didn’t go in to shops, and when I went with other people I just thought about all the food I could spend the money on instead! It was kind of liberating. But of course in March 2020 Covid19 hit, I don’t like to blame it for my failure but it certainly didn’t help my frame of mind! After loosing our jobs in the tourism industry and several months of lock-down, we chanced upon a job at a campsite in the Lake District. Up to this point I really hadn’t bought any new clothes, but I needed a swathe of outdoor ready and, most importantly, waterproof gear. And a new backpack, because, well I wanted one.
The exercise wasn’t an entire waste though, I’m now much more conscious of what I buy and the ethics behind the tag. Brands like H&M and Regatta have recycled and eco-conscious lines, and although I no longer feel the need to shop for fun, when I do want something new I’ll be sure to make better decisions. I’ve even teemed up with Teespring to bring eco friendly clothes and travel together!
How to travel better for less
Booking.com – I always book with this site if looking for cheap accommodation as the filters are so easy to use. Become a genius member after five bookings and get great discounts too!
Air BnB – Sometimes you can find great local places to stay on Air BnB. In some countries, like Cuba, it’s the only way to book!
Transferwise – A debit card you can use all over the world and get great exchange rates with no hidden fees. This bank has saved me £100’s in bank fees!
Monzo – A similar travel card to the above with additional features like joint accounts and bill splitting.
Ethical Superstore – My go to site for cleaning products, eco clothing and even groceries. All ethically tagged and delivered free from plastic packaging. Plus eco friendly alternatives to your toiletries.
Omio – The place to go for all of your public transport needs in Europe. Save a bundle!
G Adventures – A sustainable, fun, responsible travel company. I’ve travelled with them many times and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their amazing trips.
Contiki – The day job. Group travel for 18/35 year olds and memories to last a lifetime.
Hey, some links in this post are to affiliate sites. If you purchase something through them, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
A note on Amazon Affiliates – LW no longer uses this program, instead focusing on eco friendly alternatives. Read the reasons why here. LW will not profit from any links that may remain on this site. Please advise us if you spot any. Thanks!
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