In looking at reducing waste in my life, it’s hard to ignore fast fashion. I’m no fashionista by any means, but I do like an online bargain. I’ve been a sucker for sales hitting my inbox or popping up on my feed. I love the convenience of being able to choose something, order it and have it delivered in 2-3 days. Do I get good wear out of it? Mostly. But sometimes it’s too long for me or the wrong shape so I give it away.
It’s the end of life that’s problematic. I did a massive sort of all the clothes in our household and there were quite a lot of items that I wouldn’t donate. I don’t donate anything will pills or stains. I will give it a good go at getting the stains out. I’m on such a buzz of using what I have. It’s a great feeling to give something a new lease of life. Meanwhile, I ended up with 4 bags of ‘scrap material’ – old shirts of Andrew’s that had been in storage with odd stains, kindy clothes with paint stains and dirty bottoms, merino with holes and comfy clothes that I’d worn to death. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with them. Andrew is a builder so he repurposes quite a few items for scraps/drop cloth type things. I took bags and bags to H&M for their clothing recycling programme. I’m not sure where else they can be recycled.
Speaking of H&M, when I think of all of the clothing stock, in all of the different retail stores in our malls, plus their warehouses, for all seasons, in a range of colours and sizes – it hurts my heart. So many clothes end up in our landfills. Manufacturers have been known to burn excess stock (Burberry). What a waste. The human cost also cannot be ignored. We have to ask ourselves if it’s worth it.
The fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined, according to the United Nations Environment Program. The industry is the second largest consumer of water. https://www.oxfam.org.nz/news-media/blog/fast-fashion-gets-the-boot-in-2020/
I haven’t bought a new item of clothing in almost a year. I thought it would be really hard to stick to, but I think being post partum makes it a bit easier (for me personally frumping around the place). By the way if I need knickers, I’ll buy them. Or maybe I could make them myself… I have ‘window shopped’ online – ie I’ve added items to my cart and then just left them there. Sure, I might *want* something, but do I really need it?
I think the answer is no. I recently faced the challenge of returning to work with not much to fit my new shape. I lamented that I had no time to op shop – accustomed to online purchasing. I went to Save Mart, but felt flustered with the 9 month old. It’s so hard to try things on in a tiny cubicle and not freak out your baby and maintain your dignity. I hit Trade Me and FB Marketplace with great success. I chose brands of dresses I’m familiar with – I got to borrow some Karen Walker dresses from my cousin during Frocktober between kids and the A line is flattering on me. I got 3 Karen Walker dresses for $30-$40 each, a Max dress for $1 and a Mink Pink dress for $10. All in great condition in colours I love!
I might be getting carried away and still buzzing from my bargains, but I don’t think I’ll ever need to purchase a new item of clothing for myself again. And I don’t think I’ll miss out on anything. It’s made me think about the kids’ clothes. They go through so many. We’re so lucky to receive hand-me-downs from family and friends but I find myself topping up when they go up a size or with change of season. I guess I can start by being more thoughtful about my purchases. I should make a list of what they *need* and then try to source it in the community first. The op shop down the road is so cool. It’s like a wee boutique!
What do you think? Do you purchase 2nd hand? Would you?