As Christmas Jumper Day approaches on Friday 13th December, millions of Britons are set to scour the shops for the perfect Christmas jumper to help make celebrations with colleagues, family and friends instagram-worthy.
Research released today [6th December 2019] by environmental charity Hubbub suggests we’re set to buy 12 million new Christmas new Christmas jumpers this year, despite there already being 65 million stashed away in our wardrobes from previous years. The Christmas jumper is one of the worst examples of fast fashion, which is now recognised for the huge environmental damage it causes. Two out of five Christmas jumpers are only worn once over the festive period, and yet one in three under 35s buy a new Christmas jumper every year.
Now Hubbub is warning of a new threat posed by Christmas jumpers due to their high plastic content. Only 29% of those surveyed realised that most Christmas jumpers contain plastic. However, research conducted by Hubbub into 108 jumpers available this year from 11 different high street and online retailers found that 95% of were made wholly or partly of plastic materials. That means the 12 million new jumpers set to be bought this year will add to the plastic pollution crisis and the health concerns that come with this.
The most common plasic fibre used is acrylic, which was found in three quarters of the jumpers tested, with 44% made entirely from acrylic. This makes the typical Christmas jumper likely to add to the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans. A study by Plymouth University4 found that acrylic was responsible for releasing nearly 730,000 microfibres per wash, five times more than polyester-cotton blend fabric, and nearly 1.5 times as many as pure polyester.
Sarah Divall, Project Co-ordinator, Hubbub said: “We don’t want to stop people dressing up and having a great time at Christmas, but there are so many ways to do this without buying new. Fast fashion is a major threat to the natural world and Christmas jumpers are particularly problematic as so many contain plastic. We’d urge people to swap, buy second-hand or rewear and remember a jumper is for life, not just for Christmas.”
Hubbub’s tips for a more eco-friendly Christmas jumper are:
- Check what you already own – Two thirds of us own at least one Christmas jumper and one third own more than one. Bring last year’s jumper out for another wear, or pass it on if you’re not planning on wearing it again.
- Swap with family or friends – Have a Christmas jumper amnesty at work ahead of Christmas jumper day or swap with housemates to get a new look with minimal effort and no cost.
- Hand on outgrown jumpers – Children will most likely have outgrown last year’s Christmas jumper. Hold a Christmas jumper stall at your school’s Christmas fair or pass on to other parents through local Facebook groups.
- Go DIY – Create your own unique look by jazzing up a sweater you already own. By adding temporary decoration you can use your jumper the rest of the year round and stop it becoming one-wear fast fashion. For further ideas on ways to jazz up your jumper view Hubbub’s DIY guide.
- Buy second–hand – with so many Christmas jumpers worn only once or twice, a second-hand jumper can be almost brand new. Hubbub’s top three places to find great festive knits are:
- Depop – the app has plenty of seasonal knitwear available
- Beyond retro – the vintage chain has over 1,500 Christmas jumpers online and more in stores.
- Charity shops – your local high street is a jumper goldmine, whether you’re looking for a ready-made Christmas jumper or a classic sweater waiting to be customised