Sheffield family shops to save the planet

A Sheffield mum is on a mission to tackle climate change by only buying second hand clothes.

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 11:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 11:44 am
Sarah Lockwood alongside her wardrobe. Photo by Steve Ellis

Sarah Lockwood’s wardrobe is full of clothes but she hasn’t bought a brand new item in years. Instead she buys from charity and vintage shops, repairs existing clothes and adapts outfits which once belonged to her mum.

Sarah and her husband Jim, who are both teachers, try to live as environmentally friendly as possible and one of the biggest lifestyle changes they have made is with clothing.

Clothes have never been cheaper but according to charity Clothes Aid, 350,000 tonnes – that’s around £140 million worth of used but still wearable items – goes to landfill in the UK every year. More than 30 per cent of our unwanted clothing currently goes to landfill.

Half of us prefer to shop online so there’s also the carbon footprint of courier deliveries and returns.

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Sarah, who lives in Nether Edge with children Molly, aged 13, and Jack, six, doesn’t even like to shop on ebay because of the delivery and packaging waste.

She said: “We do a lot to help the environment but a few years ago I made a pledge not to buy any new clothes apart from underwear.

“I buy second hand clothes, but nothing new. I did it for a year and had a year off and have done it three times in total and now it’s a way of life.

“We go to charity shops or vintage shops and I’m about 90 per cent second hand. I enjoy that kind of shopping more and we have definitely saved money too.

“Friends at work have also shopped more in charity shops and we have clothes swapping parties.”

Sarah recently lost her mum but her memory lives on through her clothing. She sews but also takes clothes to be altered with seamstresses.

“I unpicked a beautiful dress and made it into a gorgeous outfit and had another one altered to wear for a wedding. It’s the story behind the dress which makes it special, I wear one of my mum’s maternity dresses that has been cut down to fit me,” she said.

Green councillor Alison Teal said if more people followed Sarah’s lead, it would help the planet.

She said: “I worry about how many reusable items of clothing end up in the incinerator. As a community we must reuse and recycle everything we possibly can as we’re rapidly running out of resources.”

Charity Clothes Aid said the UK could save around £3billion per year from the cost of the resources we use to make and clean clothes if we changed the way we supplied, used and disposed of clothing.

This would reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of clothing consumption by 10-20 per cent each.

Great Britons send 700,000 tonnes of clothing to recycling centres, textile banks, clothes collections and to charity each year.

That’s enough to fill 459 Olympic-size swimming pools.

57 per cent of people say they recycle their textiles

But 41 per cent of people saying they’re not aware of recycling facilities for textiles

More than 60 per cent of householders have unwanted clothes and textiles in their homes.