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Roomful of clothes but nothing to wear? You’re hardly alone. The average U.K. household owns an average of £4,000 worth of clothes, 30 percent of which languishes unworn, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme. A third of the clothing we buy every year ends up in the landfill, sometimes after just one use. And let’s not forget all the shoes we never wear. With mindless consumerism hitting its peak on Black Friday, it’s time for a new consumer revolution, one characterized less by impulse buys and more by thoughtful purchases. “The fashion industry would have us believe that overconsumption is something to be proud of, marking our success one haul at a time,” Greenpeace says in its latest campaign. “But putting aside barely worn clothing and bringing home bags of new outfits fuels a toxic supply chain and stuffs landfills with impulse buys.”
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VIVA LA REVOLUTION
But we can change the fashion industry, the environmental group adds, simply by changing the way we look at our clothing. Here are five ways how:
1. REPAIR, NOT REPLACE
“A little wear and tear doesn’t mean your clothes are destined for the trash bin,” Greenpeace says. “Pull out the needle and thread before you schedule a shopping spree. Announce to the world: #ImKeepingThis!”
2. FIGHT FAST FASHION
3. EXTEND LIFE
We get it; you can get bored of wearing the same old outfits. “Why not swap clothing with friends to give your old favorites a new life?” Greenpeace suggests. You can also buy secondhand or vintage items to extend their useful lives.
4. DEMAND BETTER, NOT MORE
Reach out to your favorite brands and find out what they are doing to improve the sustainability and ethics of their clothing. “Let them know you want better clothes, not more clothes,” Greenpeace says.
5. SUPPORT BRAND REVOLUTIONARIES
Find out which brands have pledged to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their supply chains through Greenpeace’s “Detox” initiative. “Show your support through future purchases, social media kudos, and spreading the word to friends and family,” the group adds.
For bonus inspiration, check out the story of Chiara Milford, a Berlin-based writer who went an entire year without buying new clothes.
Don’t be afraid to start small, however. The most subversive thing you can do tomorrow is just to buy nothing.
Originally published on November 26, 2015.