Us mums just love fashion. In fact, we love it so much that – as a nation – we spent £61.2 billion last year on clothes – an all-time high for Britain.
Although shopping for gorgeous new going-out gear, a huge workout wardrobe and enough clothes to sink a ship for our babies is glamorous, exciting and loads of fun, our clothing addiction is seriously bad for the planet – and pretty unethical too.
A recent study found that, in 2018 alone, Brits binned clothes worth £12.5 billion, as the rise of “throwaway” fast fashion led to 300,000 tonnes of clothes ending up in landfill. On top of that, much of the disposable fashion available on lots of high profile fashion websites and from high street shops is made by people in developing countries who are not treated well or paid fairly for their labour. The fashion industry is, in many ways, opaque and secretive – but the tide is beginning to turn on fast fashion.
If you are keen to make a change, stop the fast fashion addiction and join the army of mums who are making alternative choices when it comes to buying and sourcing clothes for themselves, their workouts and their kids, here are five ways you can help…
1. Buy second hand
The most obvious answer to the clothing crisis is; we need to buy second hand where we can. This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to that amazing dress from Topshop, or grab the kids some seriously cute party wear from Mini Boden (I mean – just gorgeous!) – just try to reduce the amount of clothing that you buy brand new.
If you’re after some skinny jeans, check out eBay or other selling sites before you hit the shops. Chances are, you can pick up exactly the pair you want at a snip of the full price – sure, they may be last season’s or have been worn a few times, but the majority of clothing sold on these sites is great quality (and you can pick up some amazing designer bargains, too!)
Clothing bundles for kids are also worth checking out. Babies and children wear their clothes a handful of times, if that, and most clothing bundles on offer will be packed to the rafters with items from Next and M&S – with some still boasting the tags and labels. It makes financial sense for mums to make a few pounds from selling their children’s stuff, rather than giving it away to the local charity shop.
Kids’ coats and shoes are also a good shout – with many mums selling brand new items that have been stashed away and forgotten about while the little ones outgrow them.
The good thing is, after kitting your kids out in second hand clobber, you’ll have a bit of cash saved up to treat them (or yourself) to something really special from one of your favourite – ethical – retailers.
2. Set up preloved social groups
If you don’t have any social media groups in your area for swapping, selling or giving away preloved clothes, consider setting one up yourself. Make sure you list out some film rules and guidelines for members, and you’re off! You can set up (or join) groups for adult clothes, baby gear or even school uniform items.
When the restrictions have been lifted on home visits and social events, another great idea (that is also super sociable for mums!) is to arrange a swishing party or fashion event where you all bring clobber that you no longer want and swap it with others. You could even donate the entry fee to charity and have a glass of fizz while you browse, too…
3. Learn some basic sewing skills
How many of us are guilty of abandoning clothes or even binning them because they have small tears, buttons missing, little holes or similar?
Back in the day, our grandmothers were well equipped with the skills to sew, darn and patch up garments that needed a bit of TLC, so consider brushing up on your textile skills and give those clothes hiding in the back of your wardrobe a new lease of life.
There are loads of online tutorials if you’re a self starter, or you can join a local sewing class to learn some basics from the experts.
4. Recycle, reuse, donate – don’t bin!
When you have finished with clothing, or bagged up the baby gear, don’t bin it. Give it away, donate it to charity, reuse it for dusters or stick it in clothes recycling bins . Anything to avoid landfill.
Additionally, if you have the time and fancy making a few quid, consider selling bundles on the auction sites and fashion your own circular economy.
5. Buy sustainable and slowly-made
Finally, if you must buy new, do your research and buy well.
It’s understandable that you’ll want your workout gear to be new rather than secondhand, and there are some incredible slow fashion, ethical activewear brands out there to consider. For your day to day wardrobe, there are loads of great ethical fashion brands to discover, which are doing their best to source their fabrics sustainably, ensure their clothes are made slowly by people who are paid and treated fairly and recycle and reuse where possible.
For some serious inspo, check out Marie Claire’s article from earlier this year that includes 36 ethical fashion brands to scout out…
Sure, you may pay more than you would for high fashion, throwaway gear bought from popular fashion websites, but – chances are – you will have saved a bit by sourcing loads of other clobber from second hand sources.
Buy items that are well made with premium fabrics, made slowly and built to last, and craft yourself a capsule wardrobe to be proud of.