By Jane Fellner
This Christmas is it time we turn the tide on consumption? Instead, should we think about giving to our planet, and change the way we give to each other?
Here’s something that’ll leave you more stunned than the Oxford Street Christmas lights: last year Britain spent a whopping £19 billion, on Christmas gifts, according to a study by British Airways. We’re the biggest Christmas shoppers in Europe!
Each household splurged an average of £475.51 on gifts, with the biggest proportion of the spend on clothing and shoes.
Research by VoucherCodes and The Centre of Retail Research estimates that 22% of that Christmas expenditure is on clothes and shoes, meaning we will be ringing up a gigantic £4.18 billion dressing ourselves and our family.
And what will happen to this mountain of clothing?
Frighteningly, within a year its estimated that 60% will end up in landfill or incinerated.
It’s not just the waste that is an environmental problem. It’s the environmental impact of producing every item, to make one kilo of cotton – the equivalent of a pair of jeans – manufacturers use 10,000-20,000 litres of water and produce 23.2 kilos of CO2.
In the last 15 years, clothing production has doubled. Our ever-growing fashion consumption has transformed the fashion industry into the second most polluting industry on the planet.
But it’s not all doom and gloom as Yuletide comes upon us.
For the fashion industry, sustainability is the buzzword of 2018. Many of the big brands are signing up to schemes to make fashion more sustainable – changing the way cotton is grown and creating different, innovative ways to recycle fibres into new clothes.
A growing number of sustainable fashion brands are making it easier for the fashion conscious to be eco-conscious and an upcoming group of young designers put sustainability and social responsibility at the core of their work, from their designs right down to how and where they source their materials.
Another trend has seen a small but growing sector of startups encourage consumers to shop clothes second hand or even rent clothes, to extend their life and reduce their environmental impact.
Kids clothes with so little wear are the bête noire of sustainability. Loopster, for example, is one of these startups who is on a mission to revolutionise how kids’ (nearly new) clothes are bought and sold.
For the grownups who are looking for something special that doesn’t cost the earth, there’s www.wearthewalk.co.uk – where you can rent a wardrobe for £60 a month or www.chic-by-choice.com – where you can rent a designer special piece.
For further reading about the fashion revolution, here are some great resources.
So, Happy Christmas shopping! And here’s to gifting our planet and our children a better future this year.
Jane Fellner is an entrepreneur, she started Loopster, an easy way to buy and sell nearly new kids clothes, last year. Previously an investigative filmmaker for twenty years, Jane learned about the human cost of fast fashion when she went undercover in Bangladesh for a film about child labour making clothes for a major retailer. Ever since she has been passionate about extending the life of clothes. When she became a working mum, Jane was continually frustrated there wasn’t a quick and easy way to get quality checked nearly new kid’s clothes for her son rather than having to buy new. The idea for Loopster was born.
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