TRAID CEO Maria Chenoweth on why we need to rethink Christmas.

We have to get one thing straight. Our planet can no longer afford mass shopping sprees such as Black Friday, Halloween, Valentines, Easter and Christmas, where people working in exploitative conditions produce even more things we don’t need. 

These seasonal events are contributing to the irreversible ecological breakdown of our planet, from deforestation, to increased fossil fuel usage, to increased carbon emissions. 

Christmas is a case in point. A peak period of hyper consumption followed by the mass waste of food and unwanted gifts that end up being incinerated or landfilled causing more toxic environmental damage.

This year, here in the UK, it is projected that we will spend £87.4 Billion on Christmas resulting in 100 million black bin bags of discarded packaging from gifts alone!

Fast fashion will also have an even greater catastrophic impact on the planet at Christmas than usual. In addition to the plastic sequins, disposable party dresses, Santa hats, onesies and unwanted gifts of socks and boxers, we have the now ubiquitous Christmas jumper. 12 million are sold each year, 95% are made partly or entirely from plastic, and two out of five jumpers are worn only once. It’s no surprise that the fashion industry is the fourth most polluting globally.

An answer to this environmental nightmare is to stop buying new, and to buy second-hand. The UK’s 11,000 charity shops are full of clothes and other items already made, and unwanted or unused by its original owner. Let’s get reusing by shopping in charity shops – one of the most environmental actions you can take to reduce your consumption.

TRAID’s charity shops are stocked with clothes passed on by people who want their unworn clothes stay in use rather than ending up in the bin. Our expert team are keeping clothes in use by hand selecting clothes to ensure our London charity stores are stocked with plenty of party dresses, Christmas jumpers and more, at no extra environmental cost to the planet.

Plus, every time you shop in TRAID’s charity stores, you are helping us to fund projects to improve conditions in the supply chains making our clothes. From supporting 2% of the world’s organic cotton production, to providing care and education for the children of garment workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

We spend £12 billion on gifts at Christmas. Imagine if just a fraction of this was spent in charity shops which fund so many good causes from supporting hospices giving dignified end of life care, animal welfare, research into critical illnesses and more!