Fashion / Fashion News

Looking to reduce your fashion consumption? Here’s why the Rule of 5 challenge is the way forward

how to reduce fashion consumption

At the beginning of each year, I've noticed more friends and acquaintances pledging to buy less fashion or refrain from adding to their wardrobes altogether. My response is always "good for them," before I brush the news aside as irrelevant to me. I rarely buy new pieces and don't I shop secondhand and vintage anyway? But this mindset ignores a few certain facts.

According to a report by the Hot or Cool Institute published in 2022, high-income countries like Australia need to reduce their fashion consumption by 60% before 2030 in order to meet a 1.5 degree target, as outlined in the Paris Agreement. Without doing so, we're on track to double our emissions.

Most importantly, it's Australia that has the highest fashion consumption footprint in the world, at 503 kg of CO₂e per year. On average, a single Australian consumes 27 kg of new clothing per year and discards around 23 kg. To remedy this, we must cut down the amount of clothes we buy – or commit to a challenge such as the one Tiffanie Darke coined 'The Rule of 5'.


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A post shared by Tiffanie Darke (@tiffdarke)

What is The Rule of 5?

So what exactly does The Rule of 5 involve? It's simple: you can only buy five new fashion items a year, with an exception for socks and underwear – however, only what you need. I'm sorry but bags and shoes count too. You can mend and repair your wardrobe, you can also have pieces altered. Renting, borrowing and swapping items is also allowed.

What's not allowed? Besides buying more than five new pieces, it's also noted that any gifts count to your overall total.  Shopping secondhand and vintage is technically allowed too, but not too much since the aim is to reduce the amount of clothing in circulation.

Five is a radical number, but it also allows room for progress over perfection. It lets you partake in the joy of fashion but forces you to think hard about the pieces you choose. Admittedly, the challenge might be difficult during pregnancy or shifting bodies, but the principle is straightforward: buy less. Darke encourages participants to choose one new piece per season instead of blowing your quota all at once. The idea is to encourage mindful consumption, especially given how most people tend to only wear 20-30% of their existing wardrobe.

Aside from the fact that The Rule of 5 challenge is a tangible way of taking action against climate change, you may also find it saves you money and deepens your own relationship to style since you're forced to exist outside of trend cycles.

So will you try it?

If you're looking for more sustainable ways to shop, here's our roundup of sustainable fashion brands. You can also explore brands with buy-back schemes.


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Image: Pinterest