Take a look in your wardrobe (or on your bedroom floor if you’re a student). How many items of clothing would you consider wearing again?
According to a 2015 study by Barnados, the average item of clothing is only worn seven times.
It’s part of a fast fashion industry – cheap, easily available clothes at cut prices – which is costing the earth.
This is encouraged by the low cost of clothes sold by high street retailers. You can pick up a new t-shirt on Market Street for a couple of quid.
But what most people don’t consider is the cost of cheap clothes to the planet.
Up to 2,700 litres of water is needed to produce one cotton t-shirt. Polyester production alone had the same carbon footprint as 185 coal fired power stations in 2015.
And clearing out your wardrobe has an impact because clothes going to landfill leads to carbon emissions – and a lorry of unwanted textiles is burned or put into landfill every second.
That’s why recycling and upcycling clothes wherever possible really can make a difference.
Young Friends of the Earth Manchester are determined to prove that there are sustainable alternatives out there, starting with a sustainable free fashion fair featuring sustainable clothing stalls and an upcycling workshop from Stitched Up Cooperative, so you can bring along your old garments and they will be given a glamorous makeover.
There’s also a fashion quiz and a clothes swap. That doesn’t mean you’ll be trading togs with the person next to you (unless you want to, of course, and the feeling’s mutual). Just bring your unwanted, good quality clothes – maybe that jumper your auntie bought you at Christmas – and you can leave with someone else’s trousers.
“This event promises to be a very exciting and interactive day, and I hope it will help to educate and enthuse people about the sustainable alternatives to fast fashion,” Amelia Gilchrist, coordinator of Young Friends of the Earth Manchester.
“As young people purchase clothes the most frequently, we should become more engaged on this issue and try to move our habits away from unsustainable consumption and towards more ethical options.
“It is clear that the fashion industry contributes greatly to some of the environmental issues that worry us so much today, but when considering solutions to these problems, fashion is often not considered.
“Many people are unaware of these impacts, or do not know the alternatives. Through this event, hopefully more people will be more mindful of our beautiful and fragile planet when buying their next outfit.”
The fair is free and open to all, and everyone who attends will be entered into a draw to win a Patagonia Fairtrade Fleece. It could come in useful in Manchester this summer.
Saturday, 28 April at Cross Street Chapel, 12-4pm.