Jade gave up buying new clothes over a year ago. She launched @notbuyingnew on Instagram to document her ‘struggles’ to give up fast fashion and uses the platform to share what she has learnt about unethical and unsustainable fashion brands.
“For years I’d been feeling guilty about the amount of stuff I was buying. I found that especially after becoming a mother, l’d got a bit lost style-wise and was just buying bags and bags of new clothes to try and feel a little bit more like myself. Of course, that didn’t happen and instead I just felt guilty about the money spent and the waste. l’d set myself mini- challenges such as ‘nothing new for a month’ but failed over and over again.
At some point I cleaned my wardrobe out and whilst I looked at the huge pile of clothes on the bed, I cried. I came across the idea of #project333 and decided to give it a go. It was 33 items of clothing for 3 months. It seemed achievable -and it was.
During those 3 months, I really learnt how to live with less and what’s more – I enjoyed it. I loved getting creative with wearing the same clothes differently and really began to appreciate each item. I bought some clothes second-hand and realised that I could buy much better quality if I looked hard enough and was patient.
I also watched a few great documentaries about fashion’s impact on the environment and the unethical treatment of people in the supply chain. Everything seemed to come together in my mind and I knew that I would never be able to buy fast fashion again.
Since then, l’ve been learning how to care for my clothing so it lasts longer (aiming for #30 Plus wears) and l’ve been learning about different fabrics. My style is slowly evolving because I’m choosing with longevity in mind, but I’d like to hope that it still retains something individual.
I now have a seasonal capsule wardrobe of mostly secondhand clothing and I’ve not bought anything new for over a year. I’ve actually found the process enlightening, creative and pretty joyous!
My instagram page inspires me to keep going. There are definitely days where I can’t be bothered to take a photo of my clothes and feel a bit absurd writing about myself but I get messages from people saying I’ve helped inspire them to change their own-shopping habits and I know that it’s worthwhile. Also, in the early days when I found giving up shopping really hard, I felt accountable because of my Instagram followers and this helped me stay on track.
I’m constantly learning too, and that’s a great motivator. I’m currently doing a @fash_rev course called ‘Fashion’s Future: The Sustainable Development Goals’ and I’m feeling inspired. I’ll keep sharing what I find out on Instagram. Also, other accounts such as @ethicalunicorn and @aconsideredlife are challenging and thought provoking.
I’m currently really enjoying some collaborating with some brands. I’m working with @blackandsigi on their #basrevival collection -turning broken or un-loved jewellery into something new and beautiful. I’ve also just done some work with @barnardos who are encouraging people to avoid ‘wear-it-once’ fashion for summer events like weddings. I’m really open to working with others, sharing their sustainable efforts and spreading the word. In an ideal word, l’d love to work with@Venetiafalconer and @liviafirth – both are incredible women who really deserve the title of ‘influencer.’ They are bold, brave and smart.
The best piece of advice I received when I started @notbuyingnew was from my husband who said, ‘just keep posting every day’. I think I’ve been able to grow and learn because I’ve been really engaged with the Instagram sustainable community. By posting everyday, I’ve developed followers, friends and, in the same way ‘just putting one step in front of the other’ helps you move forward.
I’m most proud of my number of Instagram followers. This sounds shallow but it’s really not about my ego. When I watch my numbers grow, I know that more people are searching out information about giving up fast fashion. I know the thirst for more sustainable fashion is growing and I’m truly honoured to be part of some people’s journey to a less wasteful wardrobe.
The biggest challenge I face on a daily basis is trying not to listen to the constant advertising and marketing from fast fashion brands. No matter how much I unsubscribe, I still get emails daily, catalogues through my front door, posters on my commute, adverts on the TV. It seems like everywhere I go, someone is trying to sell me clothes – often by making me feel bad about myself. The resistance is getting easier. I saw a brand selling a bikini for £I this week and it made me feel sick. How can workers be fairly paid? How can the fabric manufacturers be fairly paid? How well is that item going to last? How can people appreciate the item when it lost the same as a chocolate bar? (not even to mention that the fabric is plastic based and so will be around a long time). Oh, sorry, rant over…
I’m no longer chasing the image of the person I wanted to be, l’m content because the clothes I’ve chosen are sustainable and have caused less harm. I don’t have the best clothes, l’m never the best dressed but l’ve realised that really doesn’t matter. I’m passing on the message to both my children and I hope the respect for the environment and other people, most of whom you’ll never meet, will stay with them.
The Fashion Industry must become more transparent. When we have a true reflection of the waste and unethical treatment of workers, we’ll see the fast-faction industry for what it really is -toxic. Brands will be forced to make changes and the way we consume will be forever changed. Let’s not let them get away with “green-washing’ and pretending they are really sustainable. Let’s force them to tell us If they are paying a living wage across all stages of production, how much clothing is being dumped and burned because it hasn’t sold? How much polyester is being used in our clothes and the polluting our water supply or sitting in landfill? If we saw these answers, we might force them to change.
The easiest thing that everyone can do to lead a more sustainable life is to wear what you already own. You can stay on-trend by re-styling what you already have. If you need anything else, borrow or buy secondhand. Check my Instagram page for a mini directory of online secondhand stores if you don’t have much time, or aren’t able to visit charity shops.
If you want to make changes to your buying habits, it’s ok to start small and it’s ok not to be perfect. Buy less, buy secondhand if you can, buy from sustainable and ethical brands and wear everything you own already. I’ve started counting the wears and I’m aiming for #30 plus wears. You might be amazed at how long that takes. I think, even with a capsule wardrobe, most items will take 2- 3 years to get 30 wears.”
Right now l’m…
Watching – Years and Years on iPlayer. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever watched but it’s definitely an eye-opener when it comes to thinking about the near-future dystopia unfolding before our eyes.
Reading – I’ve just finished reading Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. It was Incredible! Honestly, it was one of the most unique narrative voices I’ve ever read and I was completely absorbed. Next on my reading list is A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, which is a classic that I’ve been wanting to read for years.
Listening to – The Guilty Feminist podcast. I’ve listened to the podcast for a while and recently went to the live show and felt so passionate and supercharged by the show. She recently interviewed @larkrisepictures who was part of an all-woman expedition documenting plastic in the ocean. I cannot wait to listen to that episode!
Pass it on…
Who would you most like to see featured on this blog? Please suggest 3 people with their Instagram or Twitter handles: