When I was asked by Wear Next to write a monthly blog about my New Year’s Resolution to not buy any new clothes for myself for the entire year, I felt a giddy combination of relieved and terrified.
On the one hand, it is surely a good thing that I have someone to hold me to account over the next twelve months – extra motivation, if you will. On the other hand, I have someone to hold me to account over the next twelve months… S***!
What about when I want to buy just one secret purchase with my friend-who-works-at-ASOS’s employee discount?! What about when I’ve had a few too many glasses of wine and come across a dreamy item in the Zara sale? Well, I guess we’ll find out! But, one thing – I promise to be honest. And so we begin…
January. Lockdown. Jesus Christ. Not a good start. And remind me why I decided to do dry January during a pandemic again? I can’t lie, when you’ve got nothing else to do, not even take a sip from a nice glass of red, it is VERY hard not to fall into the trap of clicking on those pesky psychic ads that know exactly what I need and want (the damn phones are definitely listening to us – how could they know I wanted a sweater vest otherwise?!).
With that and the never ending new year sale promotion emails coming in, I spend a worrying amount of time looking at all the things I can’t have and counting up all the money I could have ‘saved’ if I had have bought them (will never understand how my brain believes I can be saving while also spending).
I must say, while I am writing this I am questioning why I didn’t unsubscribe at the time, because it really did feel like I was getting at least five emails a day telling me new lines had been added, or 10 per cent had been deducted from the sale price of all items.
It made me realise how incredibly bombarded we are with deals, ads and ultimately temptation, pretty much all day every day. If you use apps and have used your phone to buy clothes before, it’s near impossible to avoid it. It really makes you realise how consumerism has become such a habit in society and that the amount of stuff we think we need to live seems infinite.
After doing some research, I found out that Yankelovich, a market research firm, found out that the average person living in a city sees up to 5,000 ads per day – and that was 14 years ago! So no wonder I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed while I am browsing my phone while watching Bridgerton.
The good news is that – so far (and it’s very close to the end of month one) – I have managed to avoid buying any clothes! The bad news is that I have now acquired a new coffee machine, a new giant floor cushion and some new storage containers for my kitchen. In summary, I have replaced clothes with unnecessary kitchen additions.
My boyfriend has definitely cottoned on. When the floor cushion came, he said, ‘Didn’t you give up shopping this year?!’ When I replied ‘shopping for clothes’, he just laughed in my face and went back to stuffing the cushion. I couldn’t say a lot back as I definitely haven’t saved any money or reduced the number of deliveries we are receiving.
To be fair though, that was never the reason I chose to do this. It was much more to do with trying to break what felt like more of a habit to buy clothes than a need or even want to wear them.
This, combined with the environmental impacts of the tonnes of clothes we consume every year and the humanitarian impact of companies like Primark trying to cut costs by using cheap labour, cemented my decision.
READ MORE: What is fast fashion?
I started becoming aware of the broader repercussions of my pay day purchases when I watched The True Cost documentary on Netflix, through which I learnt that the world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year – 400 per cent more than the amount we consumed just two decades ago. America alone creates 11 million tons of textile waste per year.
It just feels like it is something that people aren’t very aware of and therefore, companies are not responding to. Yes, many of our fast fashion faves are now creating more sustainable ranges (H&M’s Conscious Collection, for example), but as a percentage of their overall stock, I can’t imagine it makes much of a dent. And yes, I totally agree that buying plastic kitchen utensils is no less environmentally impactful than buying clothes, but I guess I had to start somewhere.
Before I go, I have one more confession to make – I bought two bras in the Stella McCartney sale. I had a huge debate with my boyfriend about whether that counts as clothes. In his mind it does, but for me, it is an essential and as a new mum, my boobs need more help than they used to so I am allowing it! Stella McCartney is a surprisingly sustainable brand when you do some research.
That is my absolute last purchase of fabric-goods-that-can-be-worn this year and I will try my best to calm down on the kitchen accessories. I’ll let you know how I am getting on the same time next month.
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