The 3-Month No New Clothes Challenge
A no new clothes challenge for three months is being spearheaded by Ayesha Barenblat, founder of Remake. She wonders whether we can break the cycle of constant buying as we have an opportunity to build healthy psychological habits, and limit the waste we send to landfills. And there is also the question of whether we can also stop buying from companies that don’t provide their garment workers with living wages or safe working conditions.
Ayesha isn’t saying we should never buy clothes. She asks us to be mindful about what we consume and become aware of how it is sourced. There is a deep questioning of what we truly need. And we can swap or buy secondhand if that’s what suits us as other options are also available. Some are very ancient habits.
Are we ready to engage in an enlightening journey of self-discovery by understanding our relationship with fashion? How would it feel to take a step back and reassess the rhythm of our choices, to reject the persistent drumbeat of consumerism, and instead, march to the beat of our own drum? This is a great way to consider what and who is healthy and unhealthy for our wellbeing.
And what if the most loved clothes are ones we already own, and it’s merely a matter of re-discovering them? Are we willing to undertake this challenge of purchasing no new clothes for three months? After all, the only thing we stand to lose is a habit.
Almost 60 percent of all clothes end up in incinerators or landfills within a year of production. We throw away 83 percent of our used textiles. Yet, most of these could be reused or recycled. The apparel and footwear industries contribute to more than 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, the textile-finishing industry uses around 20 to 25 percent of all chemicals produced globally.
Fast fashion consumption is expected to rise by 63 percent by 2030. In New York State, people throw away 1.4 billion pounds of clothing and textiles each year. That’s worth over $130 million. If we reused and recycled these, we could create up to 1,000 new jobs.
A study says people leave at least 50 percent of their wardrobes untouched. The findings show how far off we are about our clothing use. It asked people to estimate what percentage of their clothes they hadn’t worn in the past year.
The researchers then compared this to the real numbers. They gave each country a “delusion level”. Belgium topped this list. Belgians thought they left 26 percent of their clothes unworn. The actual number was a massive 88 percent. This gave them a delusion level of 62 percent.
Italy and Switzerland shared the second place. Their delusion level was 53 percent. Americans did not have a high delusion level (39 percent). But, they left 82 percent of their clothes unworn, the second highest rate. Other countries like Canada, Switzerland, and Norway also had high rates of unworn clothes. So did the UK, with 73 percent of clothes left untouched last year.
So, this challenge stems from the question, do we really need more stuff?
Challenge Our Choices
We have an opportunity to experiment with fashion; rent, resell, reuse, swap, repurpose. These are new ways to enjoy fashion and also care for our environment. Not to mention our consumption.
We often buy on impulse. We follow fads and trends. Can we take a step back and think about our relationship with the material world?
It’s not just about not buying. It’s about conscious consuming; being fully aware and discerning about our choices.
Secondhand shopping and thrifting is getting popular. But remember, the goal is become conscious of our habits. We can become increasingly aware of what we truly need, new or secondhand.
We change our lives when we take only what we need and live in a conscious state of abundance. This practice may lead us to more than just a new fashion approach as we question what it means to own stuff. We often underestimate how much change awareness can bring. It has a deep potential to make a significant difference in living healthy lives.