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It’s a new year. A new you. A new dawn. New day. New life. And it feels good!

Everyone’s dusting off their gym membership card, doing squats and upping their veggie intake. Making yearly goals and promises to yourself. Some may roll their eyes at this time of year and its accompanying lifestyle resolutions, but I actually really like the idea of new beginnings, fresh starts and self-improvement. And I love the George Elliot quote:

It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

Reinvent yourself, improve yourself and take a step closer to being the truest version of what you could be. Do you. I can't help but think, though, that whilst reinventing ourselves, there is also space and opportunity to reinvent the world. To challenge the norms that have been accepted before we arrived on this Earth. To improve ourselves whilst also helping the planet - the planet that is suffering at the hands of our needs, greeds and wasteful lifestyles, that is waiting and ready to forgive us our negligence as soon as we choose to change our ways...

But that’s the beauty of it. It is never too late to change. You could be a regular meat-eater, be horrendous at recycling, buy everything firsthand and drive everywhere... And then you could simply wake up the next day and make the decision to change your habits to be less harmful to the environment.

That's what I'm getting at. Being more gentle on our planet. Loving yourself, treating yourself kindly, expressing yourself creatively through fashion, whilst also loving the planet and treating it kindly in the process.

I've been shopping partly secondhand for most of my life - at car boot sales, jumble sales and in charity shops. I've been lucky in that I've got older family friends and cousins so I received a lot of hand-me-downs when I was younger. But in 2017 I made the new years resolution to stop shopping fast fashion and try to only shop secondhand - which I not only achieved but really enjoyed! It was a great way to save money and not fund fast fashion, which is an issue coming to the forefront of mainstream media more and more each day. If you're not sure what the term 'fast fashion' really means, it's a general label referring to the mass production of inexpensive pieces that are often not made to last. For this reason, their lifespan is limited and because of this (combined with the production process), fast fashion causes widespread and colossal environmental damage (as well as social damage due to workers' rights abuses). This damage is ongoing, but by choosing not to shop firsthand, you slightly reduce the demand for this process, and therein hopefully also reduce how often it occurs.

There is, of course, the argument that the true fault lies at the feet of the big conglomerates who are actually producing fast fashion pieces at such a rate that it degrades our environment. And I totally get that - and agree to a certain extent - but the fact is that big companies are not a living entity. They do not have morals, they cannot care about the planet. Sure, the individuals that work for the company might, but not the actual company. So it won't change if it isn't challenged. It just won't. The only reason a business will change its operations is by being challenged - whether that's legally (i.e. environmental regulations) economically (i.e. it's cheaper or more profitable to operate another way), or socially (i.e. by social expectations and cultural norms). It's this last category where we [the consumer] come in. We the individuals, demanding more. Demanding change.

We have a responsibility to go further than merely sharing petitions on Facebook. It is our excessive consumption which causes huge strain on resources. So we need to collectively channel our outrage at the damage to the planet into actual lifestyle changes to help ease said strain. Living out your beliefs in your daily life through your consumption choices is a great way to change the world for the better, showing people how easy it is to adapt to the times and just live a little more gently.

With this I'd like to add that of course I am not a saint. For Christmas, for instance, I got first hand festive socks for secret santa. Am I going to beat myself up over the fact that they probably weren't ethically and sustainably made? No. I will use them and take good care of them.

And I'm not suggesting that you pinky-promise to never ever shop first hand or fast fashion again. I think open-ended, realistic resolutions are the ones that are more achievable. So just vowing to try to shop secondhand where you can is a great step forward. Here are a couple of reasons I would recommend trying to do so where possible:

  • SAVE MONEY. It's cheaper [in general] to shop in charity shops than in high street stores.
  • GIVE TO CHARITY. Your money is going to a charity of your choice.
  • BETTER QUALITY CLOTHES. Vintage pieces are often made from better quality materials than the newer polyester/nylon fabrics used for high street fashion.
  • ECO-FRIENDLY. It's more environmentally friendly as you're reducing the amount of textile going to landfill.
  • FUN. Honestly, there is no joy like striking gold and finding a lovely vintage piece that has been treasured by it's previous owner but still has life in it.

So yeah. If you fancy spending less money, getting lots of unique garms in the process and having lots of eco-friendly fun, I highly recommend.


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