Our planet is in serious trouble and our nation’s addiction to new clothes is doing more harm than you may think
It’s estimated that more than two tonnes of clothing are bought each minute in the UK, more than any other country in Europe.
That amount produces nearly 50 tonnes of carbon emissions – the same as driving 162,000 miles in a car.
Buying just one white cotton shirt produces the same amount of emissions as driving 35 miles in a car.
New research by Oxfam shows just how polluting the UK’s consumption of new clothes really is. In one month alone, the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK was greater than flying a plane around the world 900 times. This is the same amount of carbon emissions the nation could save if we all took part in Second Hand September.
Earlier this year, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg stood up in front of world leaders at Davos to deliver a chilling wake up call. “We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people.”
Greta sparked a wake-up call across the globe demanding drastic change to save our planet and in turn, ourselves. We’re all feeling the effects of the climate emergency, but it is not affecting us all equally.
The world’s poorest people have contributed the least to the climate crisis, yet are suffering the full force of its impacts – increased flooding, droughts and storms destroying lives, homes, jobs, livestock and crops.
When Greta said, “our house is on fire” she wasn’t wrong. We are seeing unprecedented wild fires spreading across the Amazon rainforest, the lungs of our planet, producing 20% of the world’s oxygen. Greenland’s ice sheet is melting so fast it has caused global sea levels to rise 0.5mm in just one month.
Farmers like Hudan in Ethiopia are having to adapt in a drastically warming world to months without rainfall. Our planet is in serious trouble.
But things could be different. As Greta pointed out “The main solution is so simple that even a small child can understand. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.”
Obvious actions stand out – flying less, driving less, taking more public transport. But how about buying fewer new clothes? With the global textile industry producing more greenhouse gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined – it could be a more important change than we think.
Help raise awareness of how damaging our shopping habits can be by sharing these graphics on your social channels.
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Greta Thunbergs (SWE) at the Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 25, 2019. Congress Cenre. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Valeriano Di Domenico
Want to inspire others to say no to new too? Here are four simple ways to do just that
By pledging to take part in Second Hand September, you’ve taken a stand to make fashion more people and planet-friendly. Here are four ways to get your friends and family involved too – and make an even bigger difference in the process.
1. Spread the word about fashion’s impact
Right now, a lot of people have no idea about the planet-wrecking effects of throwaway fashion. Chances are if they did, they’d probably want to do something about it… Did you know that the UK sends 11 million items of clothing to landfill – EVERY week? You’ll find more facts to share in this blog.
2. Show off your finds
Sometimes, a little inspiration is all it takes. So show people how great second hand fashion can look – share your best buys with #SecondHandSeptember.
You might even win a prize – we’ll be picking our favourite second hand look once a week, throughout September.
If you’re after inspiration yourself, you’ll find more great outfits @oxfamonlinebatley run by the team at Wastesaver, our huge recycling and sorting centre in Batley.
3. Throw a mega-swap
You don’t always have to buy second hand to do Second Hand September. Just get friends and family together to swap unwanted clothes instead. The more the merrier and the better the choice. If any items don’t find a new home you can help fight poverty – and landfill – by donating them to your nearest Oxfam shop instead.
4. Skill-up with a friend
Hankering after a new look? Try raiding your own wardrobe. Chances are there is at least one item that’s ripe for upcycling. Visit Love Your Clothes for how-to guides, then get a friend or two over for an afternoon of creative fashion fun.
You’ll be able to share ideas – and inspire each other to learn some new skills. Created something great? Share it online #SecondHandSeptember
Photos: www.shutterstock.com | Credit point 2 (L-R) @Mary.Mandefield, @lauracollins95, @oxfamonlinebatley
Breathe new life into unworn clothes with these genius DIY aprons
Yes, it’s that time again. The judges are back, along with a fresh batch of bakers, ready to feel the heat in the infamous marquee. Feeling inspired to bake your first brioche or master the French macaroon? Knock up an apron first using second-hand clothing, and you’ll certainly get a handshake from us. There are lots of brilliant how-to guides out there – here are a few of our favourites.
Make an apron out of… a tea towel
It’s smart, it’s simple and you can learn how to make it in a matter of minutes. Who knew tea towels could be so stylish? Check out this brilliant how-to film by Treasurie. Grab yourself a unique vintage tea towel at oxfam.org.uk/shop
Make an apron out of… a shirt
Yes, even a men’s shirt can be whittled into a practical pinny thanks to this handy guide. Raid the wardrobe then follow the instructions at Love Grows Wild. You’ll find loads of shirts at oxfam.org.uk/shop
Make an apron out of… old jeans
Up for something a little trickier? This one involves a fair bit of sewing skill, but the results are oh so worth it. All thanks to our friends at Love Your Clothes. We’ve got jeans galore at oxfam.org.uk/shop
By saying no to new clothes you’re helping the world’s poorest people adapt and live with climate change
The global textiles industry is proving to be devastating for people and our planet – contributing to 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions which affect climate change. That’s more polluting than aviation and shipping combined.
Pledging not to buy new clothes for 30 days not only helps reduce your own carbon footprint, but when you donate and shop second hand at Oxfam, you’re raising money to help the world’s poorest people adapt to a climate that’s heating up fast.
Already, lives are being devastated by extreme and unpredictable weather – increased flooding, droughts and storms are destroying lives, homes, jobs, livestock and crops. And this is only set to get worse.
Hudon lives in Ethiopia with her children. She used to be a pastoralist – a farmer who herds and breeds animals. But the ongoing, severe drought slowly killed her livestock. With no income, food or water, her whole family were at risk. But now, thanks to help from Oxfam supporters and shoppers, the future looks less uncertain.
Photo credits: main image Shutterstock.com, Kieran Doherty/Oxfam
How today’s fashion industry is fuelling climate change, drinking up the world’s water and more.
Shopping for the latest trends has never been easier. Styles go seamlessly from catwalk to high street in what can feel like a matter of minutes. And not only is fashion fast. Fashion is cheap.
In a world where you can now buy a £1 bikini and a £4 dress, the true cost is far greater. Clothes have become throw-away. To be loved one minute, binned the next. Much of the fashion industry is proving to be detrimental to both people and planet.
Garment workers in countries such as Bangladesh are often not paid a living wage. This injustice keeps families trapped in a cycle of poverty.
That’s not all. The fashion industry – which includes the growing, fast fashion sector – is glugging precious water resources too. Making life even tougher for some of the world’s poorest people. Over 90% of the water footprint of UK clothing is overseas, often in countries in which water can be scarce. And producing clothes is thirsty work.
Yes, that’s 10,000 litres to grow enough cotton to make just one outfit. In some countries, it can be up to 20,000 litres. When so many people around the world don’t have enough safe water to drink, it’s unsustainable and it’s unfair. It’s harming our planet, too.The same goes for fashion’s carbon footprint. If you’re trying to live a little greener, you’ve probably thought about the way you travel, maybe what you eat. But many of us haven’t even considered the contents of our wardrobes. And yet…
That’s right – the textile industry accounts for more of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined. And, despite the emerging climate crisis, this is only set to rise.
Another massive reason to rethink the whole fast fashion thing is waste. And here’s why…
Thankfully, this staggering stat highlights a really easy way we can all have an instant impact – by wearing and caring for clothes for longer. Whatever they cost. And by recycling or donating the things we don’t want. Hey presto: millions of items saved from landfill every week.
Donate clothes to Oxfam and you’ll definitely help tackle landfill!
Even if your clothes don’t sell in our store or online. Because any that don’t are sent to Wastesaver, Oxfam’s huge sorting and recycling centre, which never sends clothes to landfill – saving around 12,000 tonnes of textiles from ending up there every year.
There are countless other ways to help make fashion more sustainable. Buying second hand. Learning basic mending skills.
Supporting ethically-made clothing brands… As part of Second Hand September we’ll be sharing more ideas and tips. We hope you’ll share your ideas too. And together, we can help make fashion kinder to people and to the planet – fast.
Wardrobe in need of a clear-out? To do your bit to fight landfill, why not bypass the dustbin and donate your clothes instead.