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.
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.
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!
Anyone who’s experienced this big wonderful world knows how important sustainability is. As a nature nerd and avid diver I’m always looking for ways to be greener. I share my eco travel tips here so we can all try to do our own little bit when we go away.