Green Fashion Challenge

Team BNC Member's Year-Long Green Fashion Challenge

As we enter Oxfam’s Second Hand September we are inspired to hear about the fashion sustainability efforts of our BNC Shows’ Seminar Moderator Cheryl Chickowski.


Since November 2018 Cheryl hasn’t bought a single item of new clothing instead, she prefers pre-loved items from high-end charity stores and always gives something back when she buys.


What inspired you take up this challenge?

I read this article* and several others about how and fill sites are being filled with ‘fast fashion’ cast offs. I am also concerned with links to child labour. So, I needed to start somewhere. I had done this in 2015 for one year and then ‘fell off the wagon’ so to speak. I started this current challenge in November last year!


What are your rules? For instance, how old do the clothes have to be; does 1-year count etc. etc. Do you have to always buy from charities, or do you buy from preloved stores or online from individuals?

Do you drop off items at the same time as when you buy something?

I only buy from charity shops and focus on buying quality items with old or new. I try to avoid buying ‘fast fashion’ items like H&M, Zara etc. My rule is if something goes in my wardrobe then something goes to the charity shop.

What’s your favourite shop and do you go to different outlets/areas for casual clothing and for business attire?

My favourite shop is Mary’s Living & Giving shop and Octavia Foundation on the Fulham Road. Wimbledon Village and High Street Kensington also have great shops. I have also bought a few great furniture pieces at Trinity Hospice in Putney

What’s the most expensive item you’ve bought?

I bought a The Fold dress for £50!

What has surprised you the most?

My wardrobe is full of styles I usually would not consider. It is also amazing what someone gives away!

What comments have people made – or haven’t they noticed?

When someone tells me that they love outfit and I tell them is cost £20 from a charity shop – and they are astounded!

What about shoes – will you also be buying pre-loved shoes?

I own a great pair of Tory Burch Pumps which were brand new. I do buy shoes but a little more selectively!

How much money did you spend on new clothes and how much have you saved this year so far?

I probably spent around £5000 a year and have probably only spend around £600 so far.

After 2019 is over will you keep this up?

I am going to go as long as I can!!!

The very unfashionable facts

Almost 20% of the world’s wastewater is produced by the clothing and textile industry

10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to the clothing and textile industry’s long supply chains and energy-intensive production

The clothing and textile industry is second to the oil industry as the world’s largest polluter

According to the UK-based charity WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme) £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfills each year and a staggering £30 billion worth of unused clothing is still sitting in our wardrobes nationwide (WRAP, 2018). This level of waste is enough to fill 459 Olympic-size swimming pools (Clothes Aid, 2013).