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'What Is #BuyNothingNewMonth?': From a Fashion Perspective

#BuyNothingNewMonth is an awareness campaign by Keep Britain Tidy, encouraging UK citizens to avoid buying any new items for the month of January.

It first started in January 2023 and has returned after helping people to consume less, helping to save items from landfill and reduce the strain on wallets. 

What Is #BuyNothingNewMonth and Why Does it Matter? 

How To Take Part

If you want to formally take part in Keep Britain Tidy's campaign you can sign up via this web form.

The 'challenge' itself is pretty simple on the surface. Just don't buy any new non-essential items, whether that be fashion, gadgets, or whatever else catches your eye but you don't actually need. This doesn't include things like food, essential clothing to keep you warm etc. 

What Counts as Buying Nothing New, in Terms of Clothing?

Buying nothing new isn't necessarily about totally restricting yourself from buying any new-to-you items. This means you could still buy second hand if you wanted to. Or you could try these other ways of keeping your outfits on point.

Buying Second Hand Fashion Instead

Second hand or preloved fashion comes in many forms. It could be that an item has just been tried on, tags taken off and then returned to the retailer. This then becomes a preloved item even though it has not really been properly 'worn' as such. Then you have those really well loved vintage items which are least 20 years old but are timeless and have so much left to give.

Renting Garments

You could also try renting an item. Something really cool we stumbled upon while scrolling IG the other day was this fashion library in the Netherlands. 

The idea is very much like borrowing a book at your local library, except it is for clothing. LENA the fashion library in Amsterdam is a physical space where you can rent used and new clothing fairly inexpensively. There is also an option to buy a garment outright. It costs about 42p-£1.72 to rent each garment a day. No late return fees, borrow for as long as you like.

This seems a much more affordable option for renting clothes for special events, or even for more everyday use at the lower end of the price spectrum. Renting a garment also still gives you that feeling of something new, without having to commit to keeping it forever. Afterwards it can be rented again so someone else can enjoy it. 

Clothes Swaps

Clothes swaps are an affordable and sustainable way to change up your wardrobe. Not only can you clear out your unwanted clothes, you can also create some new outfits with your swaps.

Repair and Alter

A really important part of Buy Nothing New Month is to take care of your existing garments. Yikes, just ripped your jeans? Get them patched. And if your dress doesn't fit you like it used to before, see if you get it altered by your local seamstress or tailor. WRAP found that if we repair an item, we keep it for another 1.3 years

Shop Second Hand This Buy Nothing New Month

second hand shop window gateshead

Shopping second during #BuyNothingNewMonth is a great stop-gap if you're used to buying brand new clothing every week or so. You may notice a difference in the amount you spend, since preloved clothing in second hand shops can be a bit cheaper (so long as you avoid the vintage stores). But you may save more money from the fact that it does take more effort to find something in your size and style. In the end, being patient will pay off. You're more likely to find something unique and interesting in a second hand shop rather than in mainstream fast fashion stores, something you can keep wearing for years to come. In short, impulse buying is a lot harder when there isn't rail after rail of clothes in your size.

Why Does Buy Nothing New Month Matter?

Ok, so you're interested in Buy Nothing New Month, but you're wondering why people are depriving themselves of some well-earned retail therapy?

The main issue is the sheer volume of clothing that is being produced around the globe. Fast fashion retailers can produce thousands of new lines of items a day and it results in fast fashion graveyards. Clothes pile up in the Atacama Desert, or wash up on beaches in Ghana. 

At the same time we have unused clothes going to waste in our wardrobes. WRAP estimate that the average person in the UK has 118 items of clothing and that there are 1.6 billion items of unworn clothes across all UK households.

Now Buy Nothing New Month isn't just about fashion, but this is just the particular area we focused on. You can of course apply all the above to the different things that you might be tempted to buy. 

There's lots of benefits you can get out of this too. Keep Britain Tidy found that in 2023, "65% of those who took part bought nothing new for a whole month, and an additional 31% bought less than they usually would."

When you make a commitment not to buy new things, you do start to appreciate what you already have. You can open up your wardrobe and start to find those things you haven't worn very often and this can be quite exciting. It doesn't just have to be one of those January resolutions that punish you for overindulging over the holidays. 

So give it a go, keep an open mind and see how liberating it can feel to hit the pause button on making new purchases. 

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