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Minister says she tackles fast fashion by mostly wearing second-hand clothes

Minister says she tackles fast fashion by mostly wearing second-hand clothes


It’s a Monday afternoon and Minister of State Pippa Hackett has walked into one of her local charity shops between constituency meetings in Tullamore. She chooses a summer dress for the holidays and an elegant top.

The Green Party senator is keen to set an example by opting almost exclusively for second-hand clothes. She’s been buying pre-loveds for a decade.

The mother-of-four says her children have become avid second-hand shoppers, but still relish the online splurges.

In my role, I think it’s important to highlight the potential harm to the environment not only in the manufacture and disposal of the garments, but also the human or labor rights issues associated with the people who manufacture these products, she says.

I think for me now, in the role that I play as a green politician, for me it’s a no-brainer. Try it and take a look, she says to encourage others.

How did you get into the occasion?

I started when I was a student through financial constraints. I realized I could find a few pieces at charity shops or thrift stores, and I probably went on for a bit as I got older. Admittedly, over the last 10 years, if not more, I’ve focused a lot on this, especially because you can get a good deal. You get something a little different, you don’t necessarily wear the same thing as everyone else.

Senator Pippa Hackett at work during a press conference at government buildings. “Almost all of my clothes that I wear to work when I wear my stilettos, a dress and a jacket, they’re pretty much all charity shops.” Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Were you previously into buying the latest fashion?

I loved buying new outfits, I won’t deny that.

I actually remember the first decent pair of jeans I bought was a pair of Miss Sixty and they were brand new. I think I had just started to work properly after my doctorate, so I remember I had bought the pair of Miss Sixty jeans and some nice T-shirts and I was just at the knees of the bees.

What’s the best side of buying used?

There’s nothing worse than walking in and seeing someone else wearing the same dress or top and I’ve been there and done it and you don’t tend to if you buy something a bit more bespoke, potentially from a charity shop. It’s all there now anyway, you have all types of marks, and sometimes you can get something really special.

Is there anything you wouldn’t buy used?

I run quite a bit and it’s not that I would choose not to buy running gear you just don’t see much because that stuff probably tends to wear out and doesn’t end up in charity shops. You wouldn’t see many pairs of runners in charity shops.

Now if I saw a pair and they were in good condition I wouldn’t turn away from them, I’d still put them in the washing machine as is so no worries there.

I get shoes, some people think oh my god you can’t buy used shoes. I have no problem with used shoes once they look fresh enough and are already partially broken in. Accessories as well as handbags: You can get a collection of handbags.

Pippa Hackett with one of the items she bought on this shopping spree at the Simon Community store in Tullamore, Co Offaly.  Photo: Moya Nolan
Pippa Hackett with one of the items she bought on this shopping spree at the Simon Community store in Tullamore, Co Offaly. Photo: Moya Nolan

Can it be difficult to dress occasionally as a government minister?

Almost all of my clothes I wear to work when I wear my stilettos a dress and a jacket they are pretty much all charity shops and you can get dresses you can get jackets you can mix and match . I just tend not to go there with anything in particular in mind. I go get a dress and get a jacket, and if I get a pair of shoes, it’s a good deal. But I have enough shoes right now, I tend to go with neutral colored shoes which go with a lot of things.

Do you have any best buys?

I have ten-year-old Karen Millen jeans. I have a navy wrap dress from Coast. I got it for 8 and it’s made of silk, I’ve probably worn it 20 times and I love it.

What advice would you give to a pre-loved first time buyer?

Come in and see if there’s anything you like, just browse, I mean, this is the ultimate browsing experience. And look, it’s your size or not, it’s random like that, but in that sense, there’s a bit of sparkle and magic in it.

Sometimes I walk around for 10 minutes to see if I find anything.

What is the key message you would like to convey?

We need to raise awareness. I have teenage kids and, you know, you’ll see packages coming in big and small in the mail and, and I’ll be like, Oh, what did you buy now? and they will say well I have this T-shirt, but it only cost me 7. It is 7 and it was sent from China and this price includes postage and packaging, more the item.

I tell them: Something is broken here, someone is suffering here. I kind of see them wringing their heads saying yes, I guess yes, it looks ridiculously cheap.

So, I think again, just the awareness around that needs to be raised.

Guess I can talk to my own kids again, they love the trip around Penneys and they enjoy it and who doesn’t, in a way?

But maybe in this sense, buy 10 things very quickly and you only spent 25, maybe to check yourself before doing it, maybe you ask what am I looking for here?

Is it just about consumption and getting as much as possible for as little as possible?

It needs to be thought through. Do you really need six more t-shirts when you have 20 in your drawer?




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