I was at a conference this weekend (which was great by the way) and as part of it, I hosted a little seminar about environmental stuff.
A little comment I made seemed to get quite a lot of attention, and so I thought I’d briefly revisit it here in case others are interested.
A couple of years ago I made a basic commitment not to buy new clothes – except for socks and underwear.
I did this because I think its completely unnecessary in the main to buy new clothes, it contributes hugely to the problem of clothing being over produced and then scrapped – the UK has huge amounts of junked clothing to deal with, just ask my old pal Joe, he’ll tell you all about it.
So anyway I made this commitment, which seemed to me to be quite clear. And in the main I’ve kept to it – in point of fact I’ve always been a charity shop shopper anyway, so that wasnt such a big shift. But for some of us, I think its a big mind shift.
Now it must be said that I have bought some new clothes in this time, and I’ve been given a few pieces of new clothing too – as presents etc.
In particular I found there was a problem for me with second hand jeans, I just went through them really quickly, and so about 18 months ago I bought an expensive pair of organic cotton jeans made by Timberland. They’ve been very good, multipurpose, and have taken the obligatory ‘mud and bike’ based battering that I tend to give all clothes.
I have also found it very difficult to find smartish polo shirts, and so bought two fair trade, organic cotton polos from Gossypium quite recently, they should last me a long time.
But in the main I’ve bought all I need from charity shops, which are particularly good for shirts I think. I’ve needed a few smart short sleeve shirts for trips overseas etc, and they’ve all been sourced in charity shops.I’m also mainly wearing second hand leather army boots at the moment (until sandal weather arrives). The strength of army boots, I think, is that they last forever if you look after them, they can be re-soled so they can just go on and on, they also can look smart or casual, and take the same mud and bike based battering with ease.
I’ve also done a wee bit of alteration here and there of old clothes – including to the disgust of my nearest and dearest cutting up a pair or two of old woven boxer shorts (my own) and hemming them up to use as handkerchiefs. Perfect.
I dont think its obligatory to buy absolutely everything second hand, I just dont think we should take new clothes for granted. Some are necessary, I think particularly in uniforms and so on, we will always need new clothing production. But in the main, for day to day wear, second hand could provide almost all we need. When you do need to buy new clothes, please dont just buy any old rubbish, think carefully, choose slowly, and buy quality, ethically sourced, product.