How often do you wear an outfit before you get rid of it - or leave it to gather dust in the back of your wardrobe?
Shoppers in the UK buy around 1,130,000 tonnes of clothes annually, and households send nearly a third of that to landfill, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
Some popular online fashion retailers are offering ‘fast fashion’ - cut-price clothes churned out quickly to match celebrity trends - encouraging shoppers to wear an outfit only once or twice, before snapping up something else.
Dr Amy Benstead, a lecturer from Fulwood who teaches fashion management at the University of Manchester, says many younger people who like to post photos of themselves on social media do not want to be seen twice in the same outfit, creating season-free fashion and a constant daily demand for new online items.
However, five South Ribble women are doing their bit to see that clothing doesn’t go to waste - and are giving folk a chance to grab a glamorous new outfit in the process.
Karen Sutton, Emma Thompson, Marie Bateson, Louise Muratori and Sue Rowlinson are organising a series of pre-loved clothing events.
One of these latches on to the emerging ‘swishing’ trend, which involves donating unwanted garments in return for tokens. Once the ‘swish’ event opens, you can swap your tokens for pre-loved clothing donated by other people.
Karen, of Clayton Brook, said: “Nowadays, people wear something once and then throw it away. But there’s talk about landfills filling up with clothes.
“It’s as big an environmental problem as plastic. You don’t realise how real it is until you’ve seen it on TV. We’ve become a throwaway culture and the impact is huge.
“When I was younger, you would wear something again and again until it was ready to throw away. These days, we’re all really busy and often we buy items online or in a rush and if they don't fit when we try them on at home, we don’t always have time to return them.
“Everyone has clothes they have hardly or never worn. So this event will help people sell their old items and anything that is left will be donated to charity.
“Reusing clothes is really popular now. I think that’s why charity shops are doing so well. Now everyone is quite open about going in them."
Marie Bateson, a professional declutterer from Bamber Bridge, often works with compulsive shoppers and clients with mental health struggles like hoarding disorder.
She said: “Any purchase makes us feel good. It offers a quick pick-me-up but the rush doesn’t last very long. Lots of people with hoarding disorder shop to fill a gap. We all do it and have to try and see the bigger picture. We all fall off the wagon.”
Fast fashion is also creating a vicious economic circle, according to Christopher Molloy, a senior fashion lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire.
He said: “The climate’s changing and the weather and seasons are unpredictable. So now we have clothes in stores that are in the wrong season.
“There was a backlash against Black Friday by many brands, as it forced them to hold sales early and they already had products that hadn’t been sold.”
Leigh McAlea, a spokesman for textiles recycling charity TRAID, said there needs to be wider changes across the fashion industry as a whole to limit the environmental impact of what we wear.
She said: “The market is flooded with cheap, easy to access clothes. There are rapidly changing trends, and mass advertising is thrown at people across social media and traditional channels.
“We need a systematic change, and to produce fewer clothes but of better quality. Fast fashion needs to be made socially unacceptable.”
Sue, Louise and Marie, a member of the Association of Professional Declutterers, are hosting a Swishing Clothes Swap on Thursday, March 19 from 9.30 – 11.30am at The Plough in Euxton. It will be held in aid of mental health charity MIND.
Karen and her daughter Emma, who owns N:HAIR:G in Hough Lane, Leyland, will hold a pre-loved clothes event called Wear Me Again. It will take place at Halls For All, St Ambrose Church, Moss Lane, Leyland, on Sunday, March 15 from 2pm to 6pm in aid of The Space Centre in Preston.
It will feature 30 stalls with new or nearly new ladies and gents clothing in sizes eight to 24, plus handbags, footwear and jewellery. There will also be a raffle. Please bring your own bags.