No More New Clothes: Buying Sustainably for a Year

When I first started shopping at charity shops, it wasn’t from a conscious effort to become more environmentally sustainable. I simply loved the surprises you can find on the clothing aisles, from vintage shirts to knitted jumpers. It was also more cost-friendly, as an unemployed student with little student loan to play with. However, it has now been over a year since I bought a new item of clothing and I am not turning back.

I remember the last new piece of clothing I bought: straight leg red cords from M&S. This was in January 2020 and they cost £9 in the sale. However (aside from the clothes I had to buy for my retail job which required me to wear an item of clothing of theirs for each shift), I had not bought new clothes for a good few months before this. It is only now, over a year in, that I can safely say that I don’t possess any desire to visit chain retail shops.

Obviously, chain retailers were unable to open for the biggest part of 2020 so I wouldn’t place my lack of purchases as a particular success. However, I know that this is the start of something bigger. I hope this year will expand to two, three, four years, as there are increasingly more opportunities to buy second-hand and sustainably nowadays.

Some of my favourite finds at my local charity shops include:

  • Pretty Little Thing checkered trousers.
  • Brown cords.
  • Multi-coloured knitted jumper (which makes me look like a CBeebies presenter, and I love it).
  • A gorgeous, pleated paisley full-length skirt.

I have also really gotten into Depop recently. Across social media apps, there has been some controversy with Depop sellers selling their old kids clothes for extortionate prices under the ‘Y2K’ fashion theme. I even saw a TikTok user showcasing her thrifting finds, which included one of those summer dresses which were mandatory uniform across many primary schools in the UK. Despite the shocking hilarity of this, it’s not a good sign. With more and more people shopping at charity shops and second-hand sites, there is the danger of certain individuals reselling the stock to gain profit. This is undoubtedly immoral. So, although I am happy to see the rise in sustainable clothing sites and an increase in thrifting across younger age groups, the circumstances are not always ideal.

However, like anything, the clothing people buy and wear should not be cause for shame. The rise in second-hand clothes shopping has saved a lot of our garments going into landfill, so that’s a big positive.

Despite the sustainability of charity shops and second-hand sites, the most sustainable option is to not buy more clothes. I tend to only buy what I need (eg. summer trousers as the weather gets warmer), and am currently selling some items on my Depop which no longer suit my style.

Image courtesy of Etienne Girardet.

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