Louise Minchin - buying fewer clothes can help the environment

PUBLISHED: 09:50 10 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:50 10 April 2019

Louise Minchin

Louise Minchin


The Chester-based BBC presenter has vowed to do her bit to help tackle fast fashion’s impact on the environment.

I never normally give up anything for Lent, but this year, inspired by a friend of mine I have, and it has been much more challenging than I imagined.

To celebrate her 50th birthday, instead of treating herself by splashing out on an expensive holiday, a snazzy new outfit or a pair of designer shoes, she did exactly the opposite, and in the face of 21st century conspicuous consumption she decided she would stop buying clothes, for a year. A whole year with nothing new! I couldn’t imagine being able to do it, but she stuck to it resolutely, and a year went buy with no new purchases. I was full of admiration for her.

That birthday resolution was fresh in my mind when I interviewed Liz Bonnin the brilliant science and wildlife presenter about the impact fast fashion has on the environment. She told me that not only is the industry one of the world’s biggest polluters, but that less than one per cent of the materials used to produce our clothes is recycled, and a staggering three out of five items end up in landfill after twelve months. I was shocked by the figures.

The combination of those two conversations made me think about sustainability, and if there was anything I could do to try and be more responsible about my fashion choices. That’s why I decided to give up buying clothes for Lent.

I assumed it wouldn’t be that difficult. Any regular BBC Breakfast viewer might say, what’s the problem Louise, you have lots of dresses? I admit I have a packed wardrobe after years of amassing things to wear on the red sofa, but to my surprise despite that, it has been challenging in unexpected ways.

I thought naively, that I didn’t buy that much, but, by putting a temporary stop to it I have realised that I am constantly being tempted to purchase new things. For me there are triggers everywhere, from endless emails from retailers offering a seasonal discount, magazines showcasing new styles and shop windows which might as well have neon signs above them saying ‘Buy this’. I had no idea how much that all subconsciously influenced me, and how, more often than perhaps I should, I fell for the temptation. It has been much harder than I thought it would be.

I am three weeks in to my voluntary fashion diet and there are benefits, it has definitely saved me money. It has also helped me take a good look at what I buy and why I buy it, proving that I for one, could do with less, but I am not sure I could manage a whole year.

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