Resolution of a resolution by Angela Caldin

Last January, I made a New Year resolution not to buy any more clothes for the duration of the coming year. I’m happy to be able to report that I kept my resolution more or less.

There were two blips: in August I bought some new pyjamas online because I had a sudden uncontrollable urge for some slightly more glamourous nightwear than the nightie I was wearing which has Trés Normal written on the front. This has always bugged me because there should be a grave accent rather than an acute one – it should read Très. You’d think that those in charge of lettering on nighties which might be sold around the world would check on the detail of the words they’re using, but apparently not. Anyway, the new pyjamas when they arrived were more suitable for a teenager than a grandmother, so I returned them and got a refund.

The second blip involved another uncontrollable urge to have a pink t-shirt to match with a particular pair of trousers. I was browsing around the op shop when I came across the perfect item: a pink Tommy Hilfiger polo shirt looking like new for $13. Trying it on at home, it became clear that it was fitting a touch too tightly over my ample bosom. I passed it on to the granddaughters and was delighted when one of them took to it, though she looked a bit aghast when I let slip it was from the charity shop.

So blips apart, I’ve got to the end of 2021 without buying any new clothes. Where has that got me, I hear you ask? It’s got me the satisfaction of keeping to my resolution and it’s saved me some money. It’s made me appreciate the clothes I’ve already got and to discover that I quite like even the ones that I thought I’d got fed up with. It’s made me realise that I have enough, though my elder daughter would disagree, ‘A wardrobe needs refreshing from time to time,’ she would say.

But has my non-buying policy done any good in the world? A tiny bit perhaps: the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, producing 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions. A staggering 300,000 tonnes of clothes are sent to British landfills each year because of the increase in consumer demand for large quantities of low-quality clothing. Many fashion items are now being designed and made specifically for short-term ownership and premature disposal. Every material item that is produced brings pollution and depletion of resources in its wake.

And if enough of us stopped buying clothes, presumably the fashion industry would grind to a halt and its economy would stagnate. Factories and shops would go out of business, including those workshops which provide employment and a livelihood in countries such as China and Bangladesh.

I have to confess that I didn’t stop buying clothes for a year because I thought it would make the world a better place; I did it to see if I could.

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