June 15, 2024


Fashion Your personal

The lessons I’ve learned in my year of not buying new clothes and shoes

Believe it or not, you have a superpower. You have the ability to save the planet by changing one thing in your life. It’s something Life/Style Editor Esther N McCarthy learned in the last year and she has shared the lessons she learned after she gave up buying brand new clothes and shoes.

Speaking at a live-streamed event from the Irish Examiner’s offices for Sustainability Week, Esther told Vickie Maye she banned herself from purchasing brand new clothes and shoes for one year, partly to have a positive environmental impact and partly to prove that she could do it.

After lamenting to environmental scientist Dr Tara Shine last year that she feels like one person can’t enact broad change in things like climate change, Esther says she was reminded by Tara that she not only can make meaningful changes in her own life, she can also inspire others through her platform at the Irish Examiner.

She says Tara described it as a “superpower” to enact change and she encouraged Esther to look at her own life and see what she can control. For Esther, it was shopping – particularly online shopping since the pandemic began.

“I had to be really honest with myself. When Tara Shine said ‘what’s your thing?’, it is clothes. It’s fashion, it’s buying stuff. 

I took a good hard look at myself and my competitive streak kicked in.” 

She says she was horrified when she realised how much the fashion industry is really costing us, particularly after she saw photos of an island of rubbish in Chile. It was the kick she needed and her 12-month challenge began. 

Esther says she still gets a fashion fix, but through sustainable sources: she says now her mantra is “share, repair, and rent,” adding that she “always loved a good charity shop.” She is nine months into her experiment and she says she’s only fallen off the shopping wagon three times since then – and more often than not she felt guilty and returned what she bought. 

And another bonus is the money she has saved that would have been spent on those impulse buys.

Closing the lunchtime chat, Esther says she wants to inspire viewers, readers and subscribers to consider what they can change in their lives and to find their own superpower.