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A Year of Boycotting Fashion

  • clothing
  • Environment
  • Fashion
  • recycle
  • sustainability

What does it mean to ‘boycott fashion’? 

Essentially ‘boycott fashion’ is a movement to raise awareness and put an end to fast / throwaway fashion. It is estimated that globally we produce up to 100 billion pieces of clothing a year, which in turn takes its toll on the planet and people who make them. 

To put this to the test, I took the plunge in 2020 to avoid buying new clothes throughout the year and instead make use of the abundance of clothing and textiles already in circulation which we can creatively repair, re-use, alter, upcycle, recycle and much more, minimising the use of new resources. 

How it panned out 

In the early months of 2020, I was hitting charity shops, trawling eBay and finding some nearly new and second-hand gems – high street and fashion brands for less than a tenner, trainers for £15 and amazed by the variety and quality on offer just by taking a bit more time searching and thinking about purchases.

Then came the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown which made things a bit trickier with charity shops and high streets closed and must admit I did buy some new fitness gear online to get into my new found hobby of cycling for lockdown exercise. 

Throughout the Summer and Autumn, I hardly brought any clothes, making use of what I already had and using the some of the second-hand items I had stockpiled earlier in the year, focusing on neutral pieces and wardrobe essentials over any fast fashion fads. 

Another blip did come in winter though, with a new ‘big coat’ brought online for the frosty nursery morning walk commutes and some jeans which I’m quite fussy about with fit / sizing. 

All in all, compared to any other year though, I was very happy with how I had managed and definitely felt the huge benefits of being part of this movement.

Findings / recommendations 

Overall, this was a hugely positive process and learning curve for me, saving me a significant amount of money, supporting small local charities and independent sellers on auction sites, as well as finding some really great nearly new items, all whilst reducing my carbon footprint along the way.

There were a few challenges – mainly the impacts of not being able to visit charity shops and try clothes on and finding fitness clothing in good condition in the right size. But I learnt a lot about different incentives and positive ways around this in the process; it is not all about completely avoiding buying new, inevitably sometimes you probably will want to, and when you do there is a wide variety on the high street / online now for more ethically and environmentally sound options.

My takeaway from it is essentially to ask yourself these questions each time you consider making a ‘fashion choice’;

  • Do you really need it?
  • Do you really need it to be new? 
  • If yes, consider sustainable brands / lines using recycled materials, organic cotton and ethical procedures.
  • The lifecycle of clothes doesn’t finish when you’re done with it; Recycle using online auction/selling sites or donate to charity shops. 

Links

Here are some links to some good ranges I have found from high street and accessible online retailers along the way, there are so many more available and by no means a definitive list, but is hopefully useful for those trying to improve their environmental credentials;

General / High street fashion;

H&M conscious 

Zara sustainability collection program

ASOS responsible edit 

Sportswear; 

Adidas Parley 

Nike ‘move to zero’ 

Decathlon ‘Eco design’

By Mark Rees, Conservation Project Manager and Budding Environmentalist

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