I have four Christmas jumpers. There’s the large, jolly green one. There’s the one I was given last year. The one I got the year before that. And then there’s the one I’m wearing now – the ugly one.
But our marvellous jumpers come at a sizeable environmental cost. In fact, last year Hubbub, an environmental charity, found that one in four of the Christmas jumpers purchased were worn once and then thrown away.
One in three under-35s admitted to buying a new Christmas jumper every year – with 24 per cent of consumers saying they didn’t want to be seen in the same jumper as the previous year – and 29 per cent admitting that the jumpers are “so cheap” they might as well buy a new one.
One practical solution is to forgo the new and choose a jumper from the depths of your wardrobe. You’d expect charity shops across the land to be packed to the rafters with knitwear covered in galloping reindeer and paddling penguins, but they’re not. Hubbub found that more often than not the jumpers are binned instead of being donated.
Our Christmas jumpers are often poorly manufactured as part of the growing necessity to feed the fast fashion industry. These items are so poorly produced, that when they eventually reach the doors of charity shops, they’re often in too bad a condition to pass on, joining the millions of garments sent to landfill sites instead.
It’s a little waste here and a little waste there – the environmental equivalent of adding insult to injury. In this industry, it’s charity shops, local communities and the environment that are the losers. All because of a growing trend of subsidising quality for quantity and affordability.
So, if the urge to purchase a new Christmas jumper is strong, perhaps treat yourself to a hand-me-down for free, and give the money you intended to spend to a good cause, rather than a large retailer.
We live in an enlightened age, when Christmas jumpers can be anything we want them to be – a fine-gauge knit with an intarsia Bible quote; emblazoned with a rather odd looking reindeer or a line from a Louis Theroux documentary. We really are spoilt for choice.
Some say that there are 36 days, at a push, in the calendar year on which festive knitwear is appropriate – from the first day of advent to the 12th day of Christmas on 6 January. But I’d argue we could go further.
A Christmas jumper doesn’t have to just be for Christmas jumper day, or even just Christmas day – jumper-friendly weather in the UK doesn’t stop in December, remember.
The environmental impact of steering clear of fast fashion aside, one of the best reasons to wear Christmas jumpers is for the sheer joy of it. They look and make people feel jolly, they boast stupid Dad jokes and even weirder imagery.
Why should we confine that merriment to Christmas? A cold spring day at the seaside could very well be appropriate festive jumper weather too – who cares if you get a few bemused looks when you whip it out mid-April?
This article was originally published on 23 December 2018.
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