12/06/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/06/2018 04:44
It's less than 20 days until Christmas and that can only mean one thing: it's time to panic buy because once again gift shopping has been left until the last minute.
Maybe you'll pick up a scarf for Grandma, a knitted jumper for Uncle Jim and socks for everyone else - because who doesn't love receiving socks?!
But have you ever considered how damaging generic and seemingly thoughtless fashion items can be to the environment?
According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), around £140m worth of clothing goes into landfill each year and clothing has the fourth largest environmental impact after housing, transport and food.
Dr Kerri Akiwowo, a Lecturer in Textiles at Loughborough University, shares her tips for giving more environmentally-friendly clothing gifts this Christmas and reveals the materials festive shoppers should avoid purchasing.
As a designer, maker, researcher, educator and mother, I have, in more recent years, felt an increased sense of environmental responsibility towards the work I produce and the things I buy, writes Dr Akiwowo.
Through textile design research, I have explored ways to reuse fabrics and fibres to create new products, exploit the properties of environmentally-friendly materials and investigate the benefits of low-energy laser-dyeing techniques.
As my awareness and understanding of the negative impact of our purchasing habits, material choices and consumer behaviours have developed, so too have my thoughts, attitudes and actions.
On a consumer level, we each contribute to the lifecycle of our clothes. We are therefore empowered to make environmentally-driven choices about how we acquire, purchase, use and care for these items.
So, as Christmas approaches, it's important to consider alternative sustainable ways to gift or buy clothing rather than opting for throw-away, single-use, materially-damaging and mass-produced items.
Keep the 'second-hand' economy thriving
Buy second-hand rather than new this Christmas. Shift the stigma and celebrate 'pre-loved' items.
Take the time to seek out quality and nearly new clothes, accessories and homewares. In turn, have a timely clear-out and donate your unwanted items in time for any pre-Christmas shoppers.
Buy less and customise an existing possession for a loved one
Preserve or update cherished items. Give them a new lease of life.
Why not sew a secret message in a pocket or sleeve? Mend a hole or rip? Decorate a boring cushion? Personalise a pair of curtains?
Prioritise hand-made gifts over mass manufactured items
Instead, support local makers, craftspeople, traditional and contemporary textile practitioners.
Visit Christmas markets and fairs for one-off purchases and interact with the makers within communities' first-hand.
Look out for: quilt-makers, knitters, crochet-enthusiasts, print-makers, embroiderers, textile toys and keepsakes.
Purchase more environmentally-friendly materials
What to avoid
What to opt for
Avoid complex garments
Complex garments typically utilise a mix of man-made and synthetic textiles and materials in their design and construction.
They pose a huge environmental problem because they are difficult to break down and separate for recycling and will not fully decompose if re-introduced into the ecosystem.
Alternative clothes such as this can be identified as 'simple' in terms of their materiality and pose less threat to the environment due to increased recyclability or biodegradable credentials.
Start the New Year right and join the 'slow clothing' movement
Clothing is purchased all year round so why not make it your New Year's resolution to be more aware of how much you're buying and what it's made of.
Make more informed and responsible choices about how you acquire and preserve your clothes.
Say no to 'fast fashion' linked to high volumes and low prices, cheap imitations, production and retail speed, throw-away attitudes, poorly made clothes, low-grade materials, questionable labour, waste and pollution.
Make it your New Year's resolution to:
The importance of 'doing your part for the environment' is now everybody's issue and should be a concern to us all.
Ultimately on an individual level, we need to buy less, create more and re-engineer supply-and-demand consumer habits.
Notes for editors
Press release reference number: 18/162
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