Remake

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The Five Stages of Grief: Adopting the No New Clothes Challenge

DENIAL

The concept of fast fashion was first brought to my attention in 2020 by an Instagram graphic that called out some of my favorite stores for overproduction and pollution. I read the graphic with disappointment and kept scrolling. It wasn’t more than a few weeks later that I found myself back at an H&M paying $6.00 for a tank top that would surely rip after the first few wears.

Pressures to stay on trend and look cool from social media, friends, and toxic internal voices kept sucking me into that greedy, consumerist mindset. I knew fast fashion was bad, but not bad enough to stop me from placing my annual order of Shien swimsuits.

 



 

ANGER

It wasn’t until 2021, when I started writing for a magazine covering all topics related to sustainability, that I learned the horrifying truth about mainstream clothing production: it is the antithesis of environmental consciousness.

no new clothes

My first assignment took a deep dive into the fast fashion industry: who were the big players?; what was happening around the world?; and what can consumers do to help? It took less than an hour of research before I began to realize how environmentally deprecating all new fashion is.

  • 100 million tons of excess textiles end up in landfills each year.
  • 200 tons of water are polluted to create one ton of dyed fabric.
  • Less than 1% of all produced clothing is recyclable.
  • 80% of all clothing ends up in landfills or incinerated.

These jarring statistics get worse every year.

 

BARGAINING

At first I cut out the obvious villains: Shien, FashionNova, Forever 21, UNIQULO. These are brands whose price tags and inventory speak loudly of their malpractice. I didn’t have a problem not shopping at them because I found most of their clothing to be cheap anyway. But it was difficult to accept that the higher quality, more expensive stores were just as much to blame.

 

“It was difficult to accept that the higher quality, more expensive stores were just as much to blame.”

DEPRESSION

Mass production of new clothes is the problem. Any brand who engages in this practice is contributing to a future of desolation.

I distinctly remember learning about global warming in sixth grade and bearing the immeasurable weight of it on my shoulders. Simultaneously, I remember feeling paralyzed in the quest to solve the earth’s issues. I wanted to help, but beyond joining my school’s recycling club, I didn’t know how. Since taking the #NoNewClothes challenge, I have felt some relief from this guilt.

 

ACCEPTANCE

I pledged to take the No New Clothes Challenge in January 2022. It has been two and half years now, and I am alive and well.

“I like to think that every time someone compliments what I’m wearing and I tell them I bought it second hand, I’m slightly opening their mind to thrift stores and diverting them from the mall.”

Buying second-hand clothes can be frustrating and tiresome. But it can also be riveting, unexpected, suspenseful, and rewarding. To me, ordering clothes online or rifling through a rack of the same item until I find my size is boring. The pride and accomplishment I feel when I find a hidden gem in the depths of a suburban Salvation Army is worth so much more than the convenience of new clothes.

 

FINDING SOLACE IN THE SCAVENGE

When I started my #NoNewClothes journey I was living in New York City, AKA the epicenter of thrifting. But I’ve since moved back to my home state and still have had incredible finds at my local second hand stores. I don’t see a world where I go back to buying new clothes because it just doesn’t make any sense. There is an unfathomable amount of perfectly good clothing going to waste each year, I simply don’t need to buy new things.

It’s easy to think that one transaction, or one online order won’t make a difference. But things do add up. I like to think that every time someone compliments what I’m wearing and I tell them I bought it second hand, I’m slightly opening their mind to thrift stores and diverting them from the mall. When multiple people are making conscious clothing choices, the impact will compound that much faster. It’s not easy to get the world to stop clicking “Order Now,” but we have to start somewhere – the earth is begging us.

My consumer footprint is one of the few things I can control in my life. I don’t want to waste that opportunity. I’m choosing to make the most out of this by buying the least.

 

Start your #NoNewClothes journey today by taking the pledge!

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