We’ve written before about ways to celebrate an eco-friendly Christmas – from green gift guides to how to choose a tree-mendous tree – and this year we’re sharing info and tips on how to stay stylish and sustainable during the holiday season.
What do you get when you cross a sheep and a kangaroo?
A woolly jumper!
Today is Save The Children’s annual Christmas Jumper Day where they encourage people to “make the world better with a sweater” by raising money for a good cause all whilst rocking a Christmas jumper.
Whilst we love doing our bit for charity and wearing silly jumpers as much as (or probably rather more than!) the next person, unfortunately the world of fast fashion is bad news for the planet. In the UK, we buy 12 million new Christmas jumpers every year, despite the fact that there are already an estimated 65 million lurking in the back of our wardrobes.
’Tis the season to be sparkly!
Nothing says Christmas like a sequin or two and Christmas parties are a great excuse to get dressed up in our glad rags and dance along to a spot of Wham! In fact, the UK loves Christmas parties so much, research by Hubbub found that more than 7 million people in the UK buy new items for the party season, spending a staggering £2.4 billion!
All that glitters is not gold… it’s plastic!
Unfortunately, most of these jumpers and party gear will be made from plastic – Hubbub analysed 108 jumpers and 169 dresses and found that 94-95% contained plastic-derived fabrics. Some of the worst offenders when it comes to festive fashion are sequins – most are made from damaging petroleum-based plastics which contain toxic chemicals, and the production processes are extremely wasteful, with around 33% of the material ending up as waste. Being plastic, they will take hundreds of years to decompose and in the meantime, they release harmful microplastics into the oceans which is bad news for marine life.
Clothes are for life, not just for Christmas!
Sadly, many of the jumpers and party dresses we buy end up unloved. Hubbub found that 1 in 5 people won’t wear the same outfit to more than one party, and Oxfam estimate that 1.7 million sequinned garments end up in the bin after the party season every year. As for Christmas jumpers, 2 in 5 of them are only worn once!
Second-hand not second-best.
Check out your local charity shops or vintage stores for hidden gems and Christmas crackers. You can also shop preloved online:
- Save the Children online Christmas jumper shop
- Oxfam online store
- And loads more! Many charities have a dedicated eBay or Depop store so search for your favourite.
Swap ’til you drop!
A great way to get your hands on a new-to-you jumper or party frock is to swap it. Love Your Clothes has some advice on how to organise a ‘swish’ – why not try organising a Christmas jumper amnesty at your office, or get your friends together for a party clothes swapping evening. The best part is – it’s free!
Renting clothes is another solution that offers the best of both worlds – a chance to wear something new without breaking the bank (or the planet…). There are more and more clothing rental services popping up, here are just a few we recommend:
Why not have a go at making your own Christmas jumper? A hand-knitted treasure can be worn time and again with pride (for some great advice on alternative and eco-friendly yarns head over to this blog post by Love Aly). Or, if you aren’t quite ready to pick up the knitting needles, how about sewing or crocheting a removable patch which you can add to one of your existing items for the festive season (and then take off and keep for next year!) – Katie Jones Knits has some amazing patterns.
But if even that sounds like it might be stretching your creative skills, check out the awesome Hubbub guide to making your own Christmas jumper using anything from fairy lights to tinsel (our favourite? pinning a stocking to the front of your jumper and filling it with candy canes to hand out – Santa would be proud!).
Care for your clothes like the good friends they are.
Sequins, like plastic microfibres, can easily end up being washed away and polluting our oceans. Wash garments only when really needed and ideally by hand, or use a Guppy Friend laundry bag to catch any stray sequins before they enter the water system. Finally, repair any damage before you start shedding sequins!
Give the gift of giving.
And, of course, if there’s more chance of a white Christmas than there is of you wearing your Christmas jumper again after today (and even less chance of rewearing that sparkly minidress that made such a splash at last year’s office Christmas party), don’t forget to donate it rather than bin it!