This week Darcey Sergison discusses the true cost of January sales and whether they contributes to the cycle of fast fashion.

It’s a New Year with the same sales. January sales are one of the most popular seasons of sales throughout the year. Despite the savings, is this form of consumerism good for anyone other than yourself?

Granted, it’s tempting to be drawn in by the 50%-plus signs lining the streets of the country, but these sales do come at a price – even if it is not for us. They create more waste in society with the increased demand. The sales promote a wasteful outlook and fuel our short attention spans on ethical and environmental matters. I want to highlight the concerns associated with the greed in consumption of products over Christmas and New Year and how we should choose cleaner and fairer products.

The sales are notoriously popular, with many people waking up in the early hours in the hope that they can bag the best bargains. But with many brands opting out of Black Friday sales for environmental reasons, maybe it’s time for the January sales to follow their lead.

Consumerism seems to only be growing, even with the knowledge of the damage it is causing to our world. But it is time to change this approach of buying mindlessly to a more conscious form of consumerism. Until big brands stop having January sales, people are still likely to go and buy from them, but there are still ways in which you can consume consciously. This will fuel a greener economy with less wasteful consuming and more ethical thinking. What if you could consume more ethically or at least reduce your waste?

There are many ways of balancing this consumption with reducing waste. It is important to realise that rather than piling up purchases, some items that are no longer wanted can be re-loved by someone else. Before buying something new, you should have a clear out of all your old clothes and either sell them online or give them to your local charity shop.

By giving your clothes to charity you are helping others who may be less fortunate as well as reducing the amount of clothes that end up at landfill sites. Clothes that are not made of 100% natural fibres will take decades to break down, so why send them to the landfill site when you can give them to someone else to wear?

Rather than buying clothes from the sales, you could consider hiring them instead. In the UK there has been a rapid increase in the amount of companies allowing you to hire clothes ranging from an everyday jumpsuit to a ball gown. Instead of buying something from a sale which you may never wear again, it is a more cost effective and environmentally friendly method to hire the clothes.

Traditionally it has been common for men to hire different varieties of suits, so now that women’s clothing has become more popular to hire, why not give it a go? Hirestreet have used their Instagram platform to build a keen following, with celebrities also hiring outfits. This shows how the trend of hiring clothes is the newest form of combatting fast fashion and creating a sustainable future.

Conscious consumerism can grow with the increase of buying high quality and timeless pieces. By buying high quality clothes, which tend not to be included in the January sales, this will reduce your spending and waste as the clothes will last longer and not feed the cycle of fast fashion. Most high street store sales tend to be known for their low-quality wear and tear, with most sale items not remaining the same shape or colour for long after their purchase. This doesn’t mean that designer brands are the only high quality, but it is important to choose the brands that you buy from carefully.

Not only should you choose the brands that will last, but also choose the brands that care. Increasingly, major fashion monopolies are noticing the power of caring for more than just economic growth. Instead the environment is rising on the agenda. This move is crucial as movements such as Extinction Rebellion have shown that our environment is at a tipping point, and that fashion industry consumerism needs to change.

Ranging from H&M to Stella McCartney, to name a few, companies are realising how consumers are more environmentally and ethically conscious when buying, which means brands are changing to meet these needs. Whether this be from avoiding sales altogether or donating proceeds from sales to charities, fashion is slowing down.

This time of the year will encourage many to reflect on 2019 and how we can improve in the new year. By participating in the January sales, buying needlessly, not thinking about the process of the clothes being made, and the waste this demand has created, it is not breaking away from the waste of 2019 but instead perpetuating more demand and waste into 2020. We should all treat 2020 as a fresh start and a chance to buy ethically and environmentally, rather than just buying for our own needs. Sales may let you save money, but they do have larger social costs.

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