With all that’s been going on over the past three months, my little challenge to myself to only buy second hand clothing for one year hasn’t stopped. I’ve been keeping to the challenge and with the exception of underwear and socks I haven’t bought any brand new clothing since January. I’ve been sent a few items of undies from my Amazon wish list but otherwise all my clothes this year have come from gift bags or thrift stores.
For those of you who need to catch up on the challenge, the rules are simple. The goal is to reduce my carbon footprint. So I’m making no brand new clothing purchases except for undies and socks for one year.
Thrown away clothing is a massive environmental hazard with fibres, chemicals from dyes and all kinds of other waste products making their way in to our food sources and environment.
It’s also a good chance to unlearn some bad shopping habits. Although I’ve never been very fashionable I do sometimes make impulse purchases. Consumption culture is most evident in the fashion industry. We constantly buy in to looks that pass quickly and pick up things that we only wear once. Travelling over the last five years has taught me that I don’t need a lot of stuff to get by. A good suit, a pair of light and dark jeans and a few basics will get you through any situation. In fact the less stuff I have the less stress I feel about having to move around.
Now that COVID restrictions are being eased I’m able to do one of my favourite things again and go hunting for treasure in second hand stores. First day out I managed to score three Adidas T-shirts and a new windbreaker. Adidas gear is always hard to find and it’s pricey even second hand, especially the genuine vintage stuff. It’s now become a bit of a fetish for me, the fit Chavs in London really got me interested. I’m pretty much in some kind of Adidas everyday now.
Check out this article on unenvironment.org for some interesting stats on the environmental impacts of the fashion industry.
“The fashion industry produces 20 per cent of global wastewater and 10 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally and it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans.”
Putting the breaks on fast fashion.
Continuing on from my other articles talking about body image and the aesthetics culture I discovered this article on Petapixel which talks about how focal length and your distance from the subject can effect how the subject looks. As a photographer I’m aware of this but I think it’s useful to talk about in the context of body issues here on the blog.
This isn’t going to be a photography lesson. You can read the original article if you want the technical stuff. The point I want to make is that all those pictures you see of hot guys in mags and online have been taken and manipulated by people who need to sell you the perfect body image so that you will buy shit or buy shit from their advertisers. It’s also why you can take photos on your phone or point and shoot camera and wonder why you look so skinnier, bigger or why you look so different.
Generally if your shooting selfies on your phone standing closer to the mirror will make you look skinnier than if you are standing further away. It’s why your face changes shape depending on where you hold the camera, it’s more to do with the camera than how you actually look. If I’m using a point and shoot I try to stick to 50mm or 35mm at a pinch. It’s always better to step away from your subject than to go wider with your frame.
Above all, always remember before you beat yourself up for not looking like a male model that chances are they don’t look exactly like their picture either.
I’m swapping my new year resolutions this year for a challenge.
For the entire year of 2020, I will only buy clothing second hand.
We don’t really need that much to survive, the consumer culture that so many of us get caught up in is designed for profit, not what we actually need to live. The goal here is to highlight how much of my life is a “want” compared to how much is “need” and to reduce my carbon footprint and waste.
So my challenge for 2020 is to only purchase clothing that I find in thrift stores.
The only exceptions to the challenge are underwear and socks.
I already have more clothing than I need so it seems like an easy challenge right? What about all those throw away party outfits, things I buy for Insta and only wear once, and stuff I buy when I’m just out for a little retail therapy? Those items are probably the most destructive single use, junk fashion pieces that we throw away without a second thought, how much of it is really necessary? How many of these items do we throw away that could be repurposed in to singlets or shorts?
Think I’m up to? We shall see. I’m lucky enough to be living in an area that is abundant with thrift stores, I’ve found some great items already that are part of my regular wardrobe, but can I go a year without buying clothing? Could you?
For all of 2020 i’ll be doing my best to only buy second hand and I’ll be sharing those purchases with all of you here.