The 'No New Clothes' Challenge

The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined” (as noted on the World Bank website)

In October last year, my mother and I challenged ourselves to avoid buying any new clothes for a whole year. We’d been discussing fast fashion and its impact on the planet and decided to change how we shop for clothes. It is confronting to admit that it hasn’t been easy. We’ve both had a couple of wobbles, but we have changed how we think about clothing and what we consume.


Over the last year, lockdowns have meant the temptation of nipping into a shop for a browse has diminished, but online shopping has often over-compensated for that. By refusing new clothes, I am forced to think a lot more carefully about everything I buy, and to invest considerably more time in finding things that are not new. What I like most about this challenge is that it makes me stop and think ‘do I really need that?’. Most of the time the answer is no, and so I have been reducing my consumption of clothing considerably.


Our ‘rules’ are:

  • Clothing can only be bought second-hand/preloved/vintage

  • Making anything yourself is allowed (fine for my mum who’s a competent dressmaker, but unfortunately not one of my skills!)

  • Buying new underwear is allowed

In Harborough we are lucky to have many great charity shops. There are also a couple of dress agencies which sell ‘preloved’ clothing. I’ve also made a few purchases via an app called Vinted, which is a great way to find second-hand bargains.


What do you think about this challenge? Have you done something similar? Any other ways in which you’ve made a significant change to what or how or how much you consume?

Further reading/watching:

https://truecostmovie.com/

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200310-sustainable-fashion-how-to-buy-clothes-good-for-the-climate

https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/fashion-clothing/what-fast-fashion-why-it-problem


World Bank website: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2019/09/23/costo-moda-medio-ambiente

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