A 19-Year-Old Activist Taught Me How to Not Buy New (And Help Save the Planet)

Power suiting. Vintage + upcycled suit, secondhand shirt, and Vagabond (old) shoes. Photo courtesy of  tollydollyposhfashion.com .

Power suiting. Vintage + upcycled suit, secondhand shirt, and Vagabond (old) shoes. Photo courtesy of tollydollyposhfashion.com.

19-year-old ethical and sustainable fashion activist Tolly (aka Tolly Dolly Posh) can't remember the last time she bought something new. Instead of keeping up with the latest trends, she’s using her skills online and in-person to fight for the earth’s future. Learn how she creates change via fashion and more in this climate emergency.

So, who are you? :)

I'm a 19-year-old ethical and sustainable fashion blogger and environmental activist, using my online platforms to raise awareness about the climate emergency and to inspire my audience to make changes where possible and to use the right they have to speak up when our governments and leaders aren't acting. I'm also a digital illustrator and animator and have created a collection of GIF stickers (on the platform GIPHY) which have been viewed over 4.4 billion times.

I'm part of Extinction Rebellion in the UK, using my skills online and in-person to fight for my future and for the earth that we stand on.

How do you describe your own style?

Eclectic? My style differs each day, depending on my mood and what I'm doing. It's also built on secondhand items which means there's been more room for me to try out new styles and find the hidden gems which fewer people are looking for. One day I might be in a pair of second-hand Carhartt dungarees and the next I might be in a rainbow denim skirt with knee-high socks but I love being able to experiment like that.

Dreaming up more ways to boycott new fashion. Floral blouse from a vintage kilo sale, Carhatt overalls via Depop (and tailored), and Po-Zu shoes. Photo courtesy of  tollydollyposhfashion.com .

Dreaming up more ways to boycott new fashion. Floral blouse from a vintage kilo sale, Carhatt overalls via Depop (and tailored), and Po-Zu shoes. Photo courtesy of tollydollyposhfashion.com.

What is your go-to look?

Because my style is all over the place, I'm unsure if I can pinpoint one! However... recently I've been wearing a second-hand ruffled blouse (which I found at the Vintage Kilo Sale), layered underneath my second-hand pair of Carhartt dungarees (found on Depop) and my Po-Zu Butterfly hi-top sneakers. I might throw on a thrifted baseball cap and a red suede jacket that I found in Savers when I was over in New England.

What's a piece in your closet you wear to make more of a statement?

I have a vintage Jaeger blazer in bright green which I found in charity shop for about £12. I often wear it when I'm at events or public speaking as it not only gives me a sense of confidence but it combines my love of color and something a little smarter and tailored.

Looking cooler than I have ever looked in a public restroom. Vintage Jaeger blazer from a charity shop, ASOS (old) blouse, secondhand KENZO pants, and Vagabond (old) shoes. Photo courtesy of  tollydollyposhfashion.com .

Looking cooler than I have ever looked in a public restroom. Vintage Jaeger blazer from a charity shop, ASOS (old) blouse, secondhand KENZO pants, and Vagabond (old) shoes. Photo courtesy of tollydollyposhfashion.com.

Where do you get most of your items?

Charity shops, mostly. If I'm looking for something really specific then I might take a look on eBay or Depop as that means you can browse across the country and not limit yourself to what's most easily accessible. I can't remember the last time I bought something new.

Charity shop > fast fashion. G-Star denim jacket, charity shop turtle neck, charity shop skirt, and YATAY shoes. Photo courtesy of  tollydollyposhfashion.com .

Charity shop > fast fashion. G-Star denim jacket, charity shop turtle neck, charity shop skirt, and YATAY shoes. Photo courtesy of tollydollyposhfashion.com.

What are your favorite brands?

I always jump to saying People Tree because I believe they're really trustworthy in their ethics. Organic Basics are great if you want to treat yourself to underwear; I was recently gifted a couple of their items and I'll treasure them for a long time. Po-Zu is great for footwear.

What's your advice on finding a style and building a closet you love (that is sustainable!)?

Use secondhand shopping (which is the most sustainable option) as a way to experiment and discover what works best for you. You can still use other brands for inspiration by saving images and outfits that you like on Pinterest or on Instagram; you'll know something is for you when you can't stop thinking about it and you're happy to wait a bit longer to find it second-hand because it definitely takes longer than just buying new in-store or online.

Perfectly mismatched. Secondhand KENZO top, and vintage + DIY skirt. Photo courtesy of  tollydollyposhfashion.com .

Perfectly mismatched. Secondhand KENZO top, and vintage + DIY skirt. Photo courtesy of tollydollyposhfashion.com.

How do you think you (and others!) can do more? What other ways to be sustainable and create change in the sustainable fashion space?

Use your voice and give brands who could be doing better a reason to change. It can start with something as simple as a tweet! Or you could even join in with campaigns such as Extinction Rebellion's #BoycottFashion which is aiming to inspire people to only shop secondhand (or just, not new!) for the duration of a year. I think it's important to at least consider challenging what we know in order to make changes both individually and as a whole.

Thanks, Tolly!