Low Carbon Living: Day 2 – No New Clothes

Bags of clothes dumped beside a charity bin

Source: Anna Gregory, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Day 2 of 365 Days Of Low Carbon Living.

The post-Christmas January sales roll on and people are madly grabbing ‘bargains’ to update their wardrobes.

Yet some of us are busy enjoying the freedom that comes with not buying into the modern mantra/obsession/addiction of 
buying new clothes and footwear. Instead, we spend our time and money on things that are more important, last longer and don’t wreck our world. We also spend less time and money storing and sorting through our clothes and shoes.

What I do

I avoid buying new clothes by:

  1. looking after my clothes and footwear so they last longer:
    • avoiding getting better clothes dirty (eg by using napkins or aprons, or wearing old or stained clothes for dirty jobs)
    • treating stains promptly
    • washing clothes when dirty
    • hanging or lying wet clothes so that they keep their shape and don’t fade
    • mending clothes when necessary – a quick stitch or sewing on a button takes much less time, money and resources than getting new clothes
    • cleaning shoes regularly – well-polished shoes last longer and do not get wet or dirty as easily as poorly kept shoes.
  2. looking for second hand clothes as the first option when I need ‘new’ clothes – this is much less expensive and can be great fun.

When I do buy new clothes:

  1. it is only when my current clothes cannot be repaired or are no longer suitable AND I cannot acquire suitable clothes easily from family, friends or local ‘op shops’
  2. I opt for:
    • the best quality I can afford for what does the job (because better quality clothes last longer)
    • natural fibres and materials (for more comfort and less pollution)
    • locally made and/or supplied (so there’s less damage to our world from the transport and packaging)

Why it’s important to buy fewer clothes and shoes

Quite apart from what it is doing to our finances and social lives, so-called ‘fast fashion’ creates massive environmental damage and problems. These include:

  • the huge amount of ‘waste’ from clothes and footwear creates problems for disposal:
    • Most ‘fast fashion’ is so poor quality that it falls apart quickly and/or cannot be sold second-hand by charities.
    • Dealing with the huge quantities for landfill and/or combustion creates enormous planning and logistical problems: currently in Australia 6 tonnes of fashion is sent to land fill every 10 minutes.
    • Breakdown of clothes in landfill or combustion can pollute water, soil and air.
  • the vast quantities of resources from the earth are needed to create the materials used: we are ‘mining’ nutrients and water for natural materials and fossil gas and oil (and water) for most synthetics – and then we bury or burn them, which means they cannot be used for more useful and/or longer-lasting purposes.
  • the huge amounts of energy and material is used for producing, transporting and packaging the raw materials and finished products – and most of this contributes to damage to our climate.


Plan your wardrobe so it only includes what you really want and need and is ‘your style’.

Only stock your wardrobe according to your plan. Decide not to be influenced by advertising and shops that just want you to buy more – I find it easier to just avoid shops, shopping sites and ads, and advertising than to resist their messages.

Wear what you have.

Look after what you have.

When an item no longer meets your needs, look at how it might be adapted or repurposed – or pass it on to someone who could use it. (Note that most people and charities don’t like being given ‘rubbish’ – in fact, it costs charities to dispose of goods that cannot be used.)

If you need ‘new’ clothes, there are plenty of options, for example:

  • swapping with friends and family
  • buying from op shops, garage sales and second hand shops
  • re-fashioning items

There is plenty of guidance online and in books (in your local library) to help you.

Join me!

Any change or challenge is easier if you have company along the way, so let’s travel on this journey together.

  • Read my blog every day for ideas, thoughts and experiences for living a lower carbon lifestyle, more in harmony with nature – while also adapting to the consequences of our damaged climate.
  • Subscribe to get posts direct to your inbox.
  • Commit to taking action yourself.
  • Add a comment to let me know you’re joining in the effort to turn around our world so it can remain liveable – and what your experiences are.
  • Share with others my posts and what you’re doing – our efforts, progress, experiences and challenges – on Facebook, on Twitter, in conversations with friends, on talkback radio and in letters to the editor.

A problem shared is a problem halved. We’re all affected by the changes to our world so we need to be all in on the action!

Till next time…