20-Year-Old Student Saves Environment by Not Buying New Clothes

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. do without (something) / dʊ wɪðˈaʊt / (phrasal) – to survive even when something is absent

    She could do without eating sweets for a day.

  2. activist / ˈæk tə vɪst / (n) – someone who fights for a cause or against an issue

    The environmental activists encouraged people to join their tree-planting events.

  3. sustainable / səˈsteɪ nə bəl / (adj) – describing something that prevents natural resources from running out

    The eco-friendly company uses sustainable materials for its products.

  4. take on (something) / teɪk ɒn / (phrasal) – to start doing or using something

    After getting promoted, he took on more responsibilities in the company.

  5. restrain / rɪˈstreɪn / (v) – to stop or control someone from doing something

    She has to restrain herself from eating meat since she started her diet.


Read the text below.

Ella Kim-Marriott, a 20-year-old student from Vancouver, Canada, challenged herself to do without new clothes in an effort to protect the environment.

Ella, an environmental activist, gave herself a year to commit to her own challenge. After completing a full year, she decided to continue the practice. To date, it has been four years since the last time she bought new clothes.

In those four years, Ella only shopped for secondhand clothing. The only new things she bought for herself were socks and undergarments from manufacturers that use sustainable materials.

Ella decided to take on the challenge after watching The True Cost documentary when she was in grade 10. The documentary highlights many issues about fast fashion—clothing produced rapidly to keep up with the constantly changing fashion trends.

According to Ella, the documentary made her realize that fast fashion involves unethical practices, such as using unsustainable fabrics and having poor working conditions in factories. In addition, the rapid and excessive production of fast fashion items means that clothing worth billions of dollars ends up as trash. The shipping and transportation of these clothes also leave carbon footprints on the environment. These reasons prompted Ella to stop supporting the fast fashion industry.

The 20-year-old student said that not buying new clothes for four years is not a big deal for her. She felt that the challenge had already become part of her lifestyle.

In fact, aside from restraining from buying fast fashion, Ella practices other sustainable lifestyle choices, including eating a plant-based diet and limiting her air travels. She hopes that more people would make sustainability their way of life.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think Ella can continue not buying new clothes in the next years? Explain.
• Would you be willing to follow the same sustainable lifestyle Ella has? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Why do you think some consumers are becoming environmentally conscious or choosing to live a sustainable lifestyle? Explain.
• For you, what is the most sustainable lifestyle choice (e.g. buying secondhand clothes, limiting air travel)? Discuss.