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Curate Your Look Sustainably in 2024: The Impact of Investing in Pre-Loved Clothing and Accessories

If you make New Year's resolutions, revolutions, or even perhaps for the rest of the year, or even beyond, have you considered buying, swapping or hiring pre-loved/tag-on-never-worn clothing before? 'But why?', you may ask. Not only can pre-loved be affordable, there are many reasons that might peek your interest. Three reasons are below and fall under the umbrella of environmentalism that is intersectional.

1. A step towards reducing waste and pollution, and the detrimental effects on workers and communities in the UK and abroad

Did you know one of the largest carbon polluters in the world is the garment industry? It is also one of the greatest waste producers and users of water, the production of cotton uses up vast amounts of water. In 2018 there were 100 billion garments produced and 3 out of 5 of those garments end up in landfill. Toxic chemicals pollute the environment and adversely affect the communities the workers are based in.

The average lifespan for an item of clothing is 3.3 years. Over 335,000 tonnes of used clothing are sent to landfill every year in the UK.

A large amount of second hand clothing and unsold out of season stock from the West is often shipped abroad to developing countries, such as Ghana, to Kantamanto Market in Accra. The clothes that are not sold, (for example 40% of the clothing in each second hand traders' bale becomes waste. Waste which is then dumped in overflowing sanitary landfills (thus undermining the engineered safeguards such as leachate control), dumped in the Gulf of Guinea, polluting the sea and killing sea life, or sent to open, unplanned landfills where it burns in the backyards of Accra’s most vulnerable neighbourhoods.

In 2017, second hand clothing from Kantamanto Market alone made up 20% of the planned capacity of Kpone Landfill, the main planned landfill for the city of Accra.

2. A step towards ending gender discrimination

Did you know there are an estimated 40-60 million female workers in the garment industry? That's 80% of the work force. With poor and unsafe working conditions, low wages, forced overtime, less-than-decent working conditions, low wages and forced overtime. Women are also often not given maternity leave, child care and safe travel to work. These are systemic violations, which are made even worse by gender based violence.

3. A step towards ending poverty wages

Did you know tens of millions of people work in this global industry and less than 2% of workers earn a living wage? The vast majority of them work extremely long hours, for very little pay. These sweatshop wages can be found across Asia to Eastern Europe to Latin America. Some major brands have admitted that none of their workers earn a living wage.

Passion for fashion and style for a while

If you love style and fashion, and you are contemplating making a change, the journey of reaching your own wardrobe sustainability only begins with one item.


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