BARONESS JENKIN can't bear consumerism that fuels clothing industry

Why I haven’t bought any new clothes in a decade: BARONESS JENKIN can’t bear the rampant consumerism that fuels the throwaway approach to what we put in our wardrobes

  • BARONESS JENKIN can’t bear consumerism that fuels throwaway approach to what clothes we buy
  • I would never dream, 例如, of wearing jeans in the House of Lords, though I’m very proud of picking them up for 99p on eBay
  • The Baroness said: ‘If I do ever need something “新的”, it is usually second-hand
  • My last clothes purchase was a £7 five-pack of knickers, bought from 阿斯达.

    My husband Bernard, the Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex, and I were enjoying our annual trip to the West Coast of Scotland in July. We’d stopped for fuel but I took the chance to pick up a set of plain, practical undies too.

    我想: ‘They’ll probably see me through for life.And I was only half joking.

    Because apart from the occasional staple such as underwear, I haven’t bought any new clothes for more than a decade and don’t intend to for the next decade, 任何一个.

    It’s not that I don’t have space in my wardrobe. There’s mountains of room. It’s just that I have made a conscious decision not to buy anything new.

    I can't bear the rampant consumerism that has fuelled the throwaway approach to what we put in our wardrobes. It's like the attitude that means so much food is thrown in the bin

    I can’t bear the rampant consumerism that has fuelled the throwaway approach to what we put in our wardrobes. It’s like the attitude that means so much food is thrown in the bin

    I can’t bear the rampant consumerism that has fuelled the throwaway approach to what we put in our wardrobes. It’s like the attitude that means so much food is thrown in the bin.

    这些年来, my thriftiness has been shaped by knowing the damage human excess is doing to the environment, both in the resources that go into producing clothing — it can take 2,700 litres of water to produce the cotton for one T-shirt — and the devastating toll from what is cast aside.

    The depressing evidence of this was apparent in the Mail’s recent picture of piles of Western clothing dumped in Chile’s Atacama Desert; and statistics that tell us 350,000 tonnes of clothing is sent to landfill in the UK each year.

    My view is that Earth’s resources are finite and we have to husband them better. I try not to preach, but it’s something I do try to live by.

    I would never dream, 例如, of wearing jeans in the House of Lords, though I'm very proud of picking them up for 99p on eBay

    I would never dream, 例如, of wearing jeans in the House of Lords, though I’m very proud of picking them up for 99p on eBay

    It’s not that I don’t take care of my appearance. But I know what I like and how I want to look.

    I would never dream, 例如, of wearing jeans in the House of Lords, though I’m very proud of picking them up for 99p on eBay.

    I’m just not interested in fashion for fashion’s sake. Trends sadly fuel excess and are something I’ve always avoided — just think how many puffball skirts must have ended up in landfill in the 1980s.

    So-called fast fashion has only amplified this needless waste. I try to ensure my carbon footprint is as low as possible. It’s difficult to pinpoint when I made the decision not to buy anything new again, but there is something wonderfully liberating about it.

    I never have trouble finding what I need in my wardrobe because it consists of a small collection of 15 or so items that I wear in rotation.

    All that business about what’s ‘inthis season simply passes me by. And I don’t like shopping — it’s so time-consuming.

    I like order, so keeping my wardrobe small helps. And I tend to choose my outfit for the next day before I go to bed, which gives me more time for my morning exercises — 100 jumping jacks, 30 press-ups, a plank position for one minute, and two minutes of squats.

    If I do ever need something ‘new’, it is usually second-hand. I may browse eBay on my iPad or pop into one of the charity shops I cycle past daily on my way into Westminster.

    If I do ever need something 'new', it is usually second-hand. I may browse eBay on my iPad or pop into one of the charity shops I cycle past daily on my way into Westminster

    If I do ever need something ‘new’, it is usually second-hand. I may browse eBay on my iPad or pop into one of the charity shops I cycle past daily on my way into Westminster

    Searching for ‘mother of the brideon eBay was a resounding success when my son got married last summer.

    I found a beautiful sleeveless dress and coat from Fenn Wright Manson that cost £70 but was in perfect condition and looked lovely with a £10 charity shop hat.

    I was brought up with that waste-not-want-not approach of the postwar generation — clothes were handed down between the girl cousins and if something was missing a button or torn, it was repaired.

    I admit I was a bit more fashion- conscious in my teens and early 20s. I can remember shopping for hot pants and miniskirts in Biba. But my shopping habits never took me anywhere pricier than L.K. Bennett — and then only in the sales.

    Even when I got married in 1988, I couldn’t bear the thought of spending a small fortune on a wedding dress, so I rented one.

    I like to think I was ahead of the curve and I’m delighted there is a growing realisation among younger women that renting clothes is more sustainable than shopping.

    Even when I got married in 1988, I couldn't bear the thought of spending a small fortune on a wedding dress, so I rented one

    Even when I got married in 1988, I couldn’t bear the thought of spending a small fortune on a wedding dress, so I rented one

    I'm both amused and proud to be known as the Frugal Baroness — and even in my family I'm renowned for thrift, preferring a practical gift to any item of clothing

    I’m both amused and proud to be known as the Frugal Baroness — and even in my family I’m renowned for thrift, preferring a practical gift to any item of clothing

    I know I’m lucky — I can afford to buy new things. But I feel no desire to and can’t imagine I ever will.

    I’m both amused and proud to be known as the Frugal Baroness — and even in my family I’m renowned for thrift, preferring a practical gift to any item of clothing.

    One of my sons bought me kitchen tongs for Christmas. And when Bernard returned from a recent sailing holiday, he handed me a practical plastic pot and lid from a Greek supermarket — perfect for carrying my breakfast to work.

    If I want to refresh my wardrobe, I can also turn to friends and colleagues. I’m an enthusiastic ‘swisher’, which isn’t nearly as racy as it sounds. I was introduced to swishing — clothes swapping — at a House of Lords party a decade ago and it’s now one of my favourite ways to find ‘newapparel.

    As to keeping my wardrobe in shape, my sewing skills aren’t as polished as my ability to throw together a meal from leftovers, but I will happily sew on a button.

    My biggest secret — or dirty secret, if you like — is keeping washing to a minimum. We don’t need to wash clothes as often as we do; the washing machine damages fabrics. And why flush all that water down the drain for no good reason?

    If an item of clothing passes the sight-and-smell test, it doesn’t need to go in the washing basket.