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Two Bulb team members both eye up a pink jumper, hoping the other one will leave without it.

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Building Bulb

How we gave our clothes a new lease of life

Global emissions from textile production are equivalent to 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 per year. The longer we can make our clothes last, the smaller the carbon impact. So we got together for a clothes swap at Bulb to give our wardrobes a new lease of life.

Fashion has an enormous carbon footprint. In fact, if the fashion industry was its own country, its carbon emissions would rank almost as highly as the entire European Continent.

Due to the cycle of manufacturing, transporting, and washing clothes, the annual carbon footprint of fashion is an alarming 3.3 billion tonnes. That’s 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And this isn’t helped by the constant trends that come as quickly as they go.

As a new season approaches, we often look at our wardrobe and it’s 'out with the old and in with the new'. Even when the 'old' are still in great condition. So what if, instead of buying new, we found another way to refresh our wardrobes? Well that’s exactly what we did.

We held our first company clothes swap

Last week, we invited Team Bulb to bring in the clothes they won’t wear any more, so they could swap them for something they would.

Team Bulb member shopping for clothes in our Bulb Clothes Swap

We gave a token for every item, which could then be spent in our clothes swap market. It’s just like shopping, without the guilt of overspending.

Items were laid out in no particular order, so part of the fun was rummaging around to find the hidden gems. And once they found what they were looking for, they exchanged them for their tokens and headed home with (what felt like) a brand new wardrobe.

We're a diverse team with broad range styles, so there was something for everyone. Hats, belts, t shirts, trousers. There was even a selection of coats and jackets which made for perfect timing as we transition to our winter wardrobes.

As expected, not every item found a new home. So we donated the unclaimed items to Help Refugees.

A keen bulb member considering a pair of shoes at the Bulb Clothes Swap.

Future proofing

Unfortunately, one clothes swap isn’t going to stop fashion pollution on its own. Material consumption of natural resources is increasing, and the UN says by 2050 we’ll need the equivalent of three planets to provide the natural resources required to sustain our current lifestyle.

But there are things you can do to prevent this:

  1. Host your own clothes swap - Skip the shopping spree and invite your friends to swap their unwanted items with you.

  2. Shop second hand - We can guarantee there are some absolute gems in your local charity and vintage shops. Go and grab yourself some chunky knitwear or a flannel shirt for the colder weather.

  3. Repair and restyle - Hole in your trousers? Patch it up. Loose button? All you need is a needle and thread.

So join the people and organisations helping to decrease the carbon footprint of the fashion industry, and together we can make looking good, sustainable.

If you've got any tips you’d like to share on how you keep your fashion carbon footprint low, let us know in our community.

This post was written by Catherine Ritchie, one quarter of our amazing Workspace Team.