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Fast-Fashion Guilt Changing Shopping Habits, Survey Says

One in five British women admits to feeling guilty when buying new clothing, according to a report by Patatam, a French company that bills itself as the United Kingdom’s “biggest online preloved fashion retailer.”

These pangs of shame, particularly around the issue of fast fashion, are reshaping shopping patterns, Patatam said. Nearly two in three (64 percent) of the 1,000 adults it surveyed said they are now more likely to buy secondhand clothing to ameliorate clothing overproduction and landfill waste. This number is up from 45 percent in 2016, which the company said is a promising shift.

“It’s great to see British consumers becoming more conscious of the impact their shopping habits are having on the environment,” Eric Gagnaire, managing director at Patatam, said in a statement. “Consumers are now considering the clothes in their wardrobe in a whole new way and thinking about not only the manufacturing process and the environmental and social impact of this, but what happens when they are done wearing items.”

A previous survey by Patatam found that the average British woman keeps 504-pounds worth ($616) of unworn clothing in her wardrobe. One in six (17 percent) hoarders hang on to these clothes because they remind them of a person, place or experience, while one in five (18 percent) maintain ill-fitting garments in the hope of wearing them again someday.

But awareness of more responsible fashion habits are growing, Patatam said. According to its research, 92 percent of British women would rather sell their unwanted items to someone else than toss them in the trash.

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“We have seen an increase in shoppers wanting their clothes to have a second lease on life, whether they sell, donate or upcycle them, rather than just sending them to landfill,” Gagnaire added. “This shows how much attitudes have changed and how British women are making a move to become more conscious consumers.”

Patatam offers gently used women’s and children’s clothing through its website at prices up to 90 percent off the initial sticker price. Consumers can also sell their own castoffs to the company using its free PataBag service, which it says requires “no fuss.” Items that don’t make the cut for resale can either be mailed back to the owner for a fee or donated to a partner charity, similar to the ThredUp model.

British consumers buy more new clothes annually than any other European country and send roughly 300,000 tons of clothes a year to incineration or landfills, a cross-political inquiry into the impacts of fast fashion in the United Kingdom recently found. Textile production, it noted, contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined.