News >> Challenge to kick the toxic shopping habit

Challenge to kick the toxic shopping habit

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

A website to help fashion-hungry shoppers kick their buying habit for the sake of the planet has been launched by a College alumnus.

Emma Kidd witnessed first hand the damage caused by the fast-fashion industry while working as a fashion designer in South East Asia. 

She describes the Fashion Detox Challenge as a gentle invitation to those who frequently buy clothes, to try and go without for 10 weeks.

The project is part of her Phd Research at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) as she wanted to find out if people could be encouraged to be more conscious consumers.

What really came across from people who took the challenge was just how much shopping has become a habit for some people.  They are buying clothes without thinking - maybe even things they don't reall want that much: Emma Kidd.

"I think the challenge made them realise how much they are brainwashed by advertising – they were not consciously choosing to buy clothes as much as responding to cues.”

People who took up the challenge were asked to keep a diary of their experiences to record how they felt.  She said many people were taken aback at how much they spent on clothes with one young girl reflecting that her buying habits had got her into debt.  

Emma collaborated with the sustainability team at GCU to work on the project.  She also discovered research conducted by the University of Plymouth that showed the total global carbon footprint of the fashion industry was actually larger than the combined carbon out of the shipping and aviation industries.  

“Even if government’s have a view of what is more sustainable – they don’t want to inhibit GDP or interfere in consumer demand so the onus needs to be on the consumer."

“There was a definite theme from people taking the challenge that they felt they were taking back control of their shopping habits – realising they don’t need or want all this stuff – especially the sorts of clothing that don’t last very long.”

The first phase was limited to Scotland with most of the respondents taking part aged 17 to 56.  Now Emma wants to begin to roll it out the project as widely as possible.

She admits that tackling the existing "hard-wired" systems of the fashion industry will not be straight forward and raises many difficult questions.  At one point she was approached by a man from Bangladesh, who pointed out that many people in his country rely on the fashion industry for an income.   

"I love clothing - I just don't like fashion. This challenge is about discerning between needs and wants, and completely rejecting the fast fashion system – without losing a love of clothing.

“There are many complex arguments but I take the environment as my bottom line,” says Emma, an alumnus of MSc Holistic Science.  “It’s simple. If we don’t have healthy ecosytems we cannot live.”