Saturday, January 18News For London

Christmas jumpers are fuelling environmental crisis, survey reveals

(Photo by Natalia Reppas) Christmas jumper display in Topshop, Oxford Street 2019.

As Christmas is rapidly approaching, shoppers are being urged to reconsider buying their annual festive jumper as new survey reveals 12 million jumpers are expected to be bought this Christmas, fuelling micro-plastic crisis.

The Christmas jumper is set to become one of the most infamous examples of fast fashion as it is now revealed to be hugely damaging to the environment and adding to the plastic pollution crisis.

Growing public interest in eco-shopping and sustainability alongside concerns over fast fashion has raised alarm over the problematic popularity of Christmas jumpers, as new report finds a third of young adults in the UK buy a new festive sweater every year.

The survey was published on the 6 December 2019 by the environmental charity, Hubbub, who sample tested 108 Christmas jumpers on sale this year from 11 high street shops in the UK as well as online retailers.

The survey examined jumpers from Primark, New Look, George, Sainsbury’s, H&M, Topshop, John Lewis, Boohoo, Amazon, Pretty Little Thing and ASOS.

Results showed that 12 million Christmas jumpers are set to be bought this year, despite a reported 65 million already existing in Londoners wardrobes. Moreover, only two in five festive jumpers will be worn more than once over the holidays.

The survey revealed that 95% of the jumpers are made completely or mostly of plastic materials. The most common plastic fibre being used in the making of plastic jumpers is acrylic. Acrylic is more ecologically damaging than polyester and was found in three-quarters of the jumpers tested, with almost half made entirely from it.

This is alarming as plastic fibre sheds masses of microfibres when washed which are linked to environmental issues like plastic pollution in the ocean.

(Photo by Natalia Reppas) Christmas jumper display in H&M, Oxford Street 2019.

Londoners shopping at fast fashion shops, Topshop, H&M and Primark, along Oxford Street, were surprised by the statistics.

Despite a general lack of awareness of these statistics, many young adults appear to have kept the same Christmas jumper from a few years ago and many were not considering buying a new one this year. 

However, there were exceptions. H&M shopper, Sara, 28, stated that the survey does “make you think”, and although had “been aware of the concerns surrounding Christmas jumpers”, was still shopping for one this year.

She continued: “I have considered other alternatives to buying new jumpers but to be honest I don’t throw away the ones I already have, I take them to charity shops”

But she can’t resist buying a new one this year: “they’re so shiny and sparkly, whenever you see them they draw your eye”.

This opinion was shared by Lauren, 26, who, like many, was shopping for a Christmas office party and Katie, 18, who said she had just bought one last week.

In effort to reduce the impact of seasonal clothing and make for an eco-friendly Christmas, environmentalists are advising consumers to consider alternative options such as checking what they already own, making your own (DIY) or buying a second-hand jumper.