THE BLOG

Why I'm Giving Up Clothes

23/09/2015 16:56 BST | Updated 23/09/2016 10:12 BST

This blog is part of a month-long focus around sustainable fashion across HuffPost UK Style and Lifestyle. Here we aim to champion some of the emerging names in fashion and shine a light on the truth about the impact our appetite for fast fashion has around the world.

To be clear, I'm not advocating mass naked-ness, I'm just giving up buying clothes, not the actual wearing of them.

In 2012/13 my family and I spent a year buying nothing new - I called it My Make Do and Mend Year, and blogged my way through the journey. Since September 2012 I have only bought second-hand clothes (with the exception of some lovely ethical pants from Who Made Your Pants).

Back in the days when I bought new clothes, I used to find shopping really stressful-I could never find anything I liked, or that fitted. If I did manage to find something that I both liked and that fitted, I would then suffer paroxysms of guilt at the cost.

But at no point did the ethics of the garment's production cross my mind.

When we embarked on our year of buying nothing new, I embraced charity shops and the treasures that lay within. I gleefully bought not just one, but four new dresses in the space of a month-freed from the cost constraints of the High Street.

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As the year progressed, what started as a slightly naïve personal challenge, started to become a much more pressing mission: to find out how I as an individual could step away from the treadmill of consumerism, and all the environmental and ethical issues that come with it.

On Wednesday 24 April, 2013, about halfway through our challenge, The Rana Plaza clothing factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing 1,129 people and injuring thousands more. It bought the horrors of fast fashion to the front pages, and into the public eye. Those of us in the West were forced to confront the fact that our choices, the things we buy, have an impact on other people, in another part of the world.

Once the year ended, I made the decision to continue to only buy 'pre-loved' clothes. It's not a perfect solution-it would be naïve in the extreme to think that fast fashion, consumerism, and the myriad of complex issues around them could be solved neatly by avoiding new things. But it was my partial solution. My stand against the big brands and the disposable society we live in. And it was the (partial) solution that sat most easily with my personal ethics, and my desire to reduce my personal demand on the planet's resources.

For a couple of years, I happily filled my wardrobe and drawers with charity shop finds, and it was easy. Too easy.

But my conscience was clear, and my wardrobe was full.

Happy Days!

Or maybe not.

Over the last few months, I have been viewing my ever-expanding wardrobe with something verging on distaste.

Every day I was looking at bulging drawers, and still feeling like I had nothing to wear. I had clothes, lots of clothes, but I was still wearing the same things, day in and day out.

I had created my own second-hand version of fast fashion.

It may not have the environmental impact of the fashions of the High Street, but it still felt like I was stuck on that treadmill of consumerism that I have been trying so hard to get off.

Too much stuff is still too much stuff, whether it's been bought new, or second-hand,

As the third anniversary of the start of My Make Do and Mend Year approached, I started to suffer from itchy feet.

I have continued to blog since the official end of the year, but I was feeling stale, and in need of a new challenge.

Given my dissatisfaction with the contents of my wardrobe, I decided to see if I could spend a year without buying any clothes at all. No new, or second-hand, clothes, shoes, accessories, and even underwear.

I wanted to test my creativity. To see what would happen when I get truly, truly bored of wearing the same things, day after day. To see how many times it is possible to patch the knees on a pair of jeans. To see if I can learn to love the clothes I already have.

And to my surprise, other people want to join in too.

Since floating the idea on my blog, there are now over people from all over the world, signed up to join in, in the Facebook group I set up.

I'm excited to see where this journey takes me, and the other people taking part. We aren't going to solve fast fashion, and in the grand scheme of things, the environmental impact will be pretty negligible.

But we will be making our own stand against consumerism, making personal choices for more sustainable wardrobes, and being more empowered about the choices that we make, that we all make, every day.

HuffPost UK Lifestyle is running a special series around Sustainable Fashion for the month of September. Livia Firth is creative director of Eco-Age and founder of The Green Carpet Challenge, and will be guest editing on 18 September. If you'd like to blog or get involved, please email us.