Sustainable outdoor knitwear. How long will my new Finisterre jumper last?

Just before Christmas I was gifted a merino wool outdoor jumper by Cornish fashion-sustainability pioneers Finisterre. My mission was to try it out, and share my findings on my social media channels.

I loved the jumper and it suited my outdoor lifestyle so it got a really positive review.

How long should a jumper last?

A few weeks on, the jumper has been everywhere with me, and is clearly a piece I’m going to get a lot of wear out of.

So much so, it’s given me an idea for an experiment in sustainability.

Reading the comprehensive environmental impact information on the Finisterre website, I became interested in the idea that, from its start to its end, I could trace the whole life of my jumper.

I could make my own life cycle assessment.

In other words, I could work out how much use my jumper got, how long it lasted, and what happened to it when I decided not to wear it anymore.

Finisterre’s detailed impact information made investigating the beginnings of my jumper easy.

  • It was designed and created by a B-Corp company
  • It contains no man-made fibres
  • It was produced in a named Chinese factory
  • It was transported by sea
  • It arrived in water-soluble, ocean safe, non-toxic packaging

Having eco-friendly origins is really important when it comes to climate change and pollution;

But what happens to my jumper over the next few months, years, and hopefully decades matters just as much, perhaps more.

Because in theory, if it lasts a long time, I won’t need to replace it with a new jumper.

Finisterre, by the way, have one of the most comprehensive post-use schemes I’ve come across. Their Lived and Loved offerings include gear repairs, pre-loved goods, trade in options and product care advice.

Outdoor fashion is all too often fast fashion

Ask the internet, ‘How long does a jumper last?’ and the answers will range from 1 year to a lifetime.

But the real answer is, ‘However long you want it to’. We all know fast fashion is bad but in the outdoor world, we’re good at making excuses for our purchases.

‘I need a new one to keep me… (insert here) warm/safe/bright/snazzy/professional/interested.’

I’m not going to go into that here (perhaps because I love gear shopping as much as the next adventurer) but there can be no doubt the best way we can reduce the carbon footprint of our outdoor clothing is to buy less of it.

Which means we need to think about how long our purchases are going to last.

So however long it lasts, from sheep to compost, I’m going to trace the lifetime of my Finisterre jumper.

Here’s what I’m planning to find out.

  1. How much I wear it (and what for)
  2. How often I wash it (and what with)
  3. How many times I mend it (and how)
  4. How long it lasts (in various stages)
  5. How I recycle elements of it (hats, dishcloths etc)
  6. How I return it to the land (perhaps my wormery)

One month into its life with me, here’s how my Finisterre Shale Stitch Jumper is doing so far.

Author’s note: Since I wrote this post, many people have responded with examples of their own clothing that has lasted a long time. My favourite is a cardigan that my mum still has but first bought when she was expecting me (56 years ago). I’m beginning to realise my jumper might well outlast me!

Lifetime review – Finisterre Women’s Shale Stitch jumper

This is a merino wool loose-fitting jumper designed to be worn outdoors and keep the wearer warm on beach walks.

Construction – The extrafine Merino wool in this jumper gives it a lightness that is unusual in a jumper so warm. The relaxed fit and soft touch means it’s as pleasant to wear next to the skin as it is with long-sleeve layers underneath.

Design details – I love the colour block intarsia design, which reminds me in equal measure of the sea and the 1980s but this jumper’s design and colouring also have a timeless quality, which should help it last. With some boucle sections and a deep rib at the bottom, neck and wrists, this jumper gives a nod to more traditional knits but cleverly retains a modern feel with the long shoulder shaping and the curved front hem.

Useful for – I’ve already been surprised how often I’ve reached for this jumper. It’s been on plenty of beach dog walks but also keeps me warm on chilly days in the office. I’m happy to style it up with a matching scarf, cargo jeans and boots or sling it on with leggings and a beanie. I’ve even slept in it, and often wander out into the rainy garden in it. Time will tell but this could well be that much sought-after outdoor clothing piece, the jumper that does everything.

Diary of a wool jumper

December 2023

  • Event – multiple clifftop dog walks
  • Worn – with old jeans, homemade beanie and walking boots
  • Verdict –  keeps out just the right amount of breeze on windy days but is super breathable when I need it to be
Finisterre Shale Jumper, December 2023
  • Event – seaside Christmas lights trail with family
  • Worn – thermals, Mom jeans and a beanie
  • Verdict – despite the drizzle I didn’t need my jacket, it kept me warm on a windy night

January 2024

Finisterre Shale Jumper, winter camp, January 2024
  • Event – January 1st, my first camp night of 2024
  • Worn – with merino leggings, socks and a 3-season sleeping bag
  • Verdict – despite howling winds and excessive rain, I was snug as a bug; too warm in fact, turns out a Finisterre jumper makes a great camp pillow
Finisterre Shale Jumper, January 2024
  • Event – most days in the home office
  • Worn – often with leggings, long-sleeved thermal top, warm socks and sheepskin boots
  • Verdict – warm even when I’m not moving around, it’s helping me keep the heating bills down

Why should we care about the sustainability of our outdoor gear?

From stoves to jumpers, I love writing outdoor gear reviews. I always hope the time I take to test and write about clothing and equipment will help someone else get outside safely and happily.

And more recently, make sustainable purchase choices.

Check out my tips on how to write a gear review.

Even with outdoor gear, our purchase choices are having a direct impact on the environments we love to explore, and on the people and animals who live in them. Whether it’s oceans polluted by plastic and oil, diminishing water supplies or disappearing ecosystems, if we want to look after our planet and our fellow planet-dwellers, we need to change our ways.

Sustainability and outdoor clothing

Let’s look at outdoor clothing or, as it could also be called, outdoor fashion.

Whatever you choose to buy, your outdoor clothing has a carbon footprint. If you buy lots of outdoor clothing, you are going to have a bigger carbon footprint than if you buy less.

It’s a simple but perhaps not-so palatable fact.

  • Yes – buying gear made from recycled materials can help
  • Yes – buying, donating and selling second-hand gear can help
  • Yes – looking for brands with strong eco-credentials can help

But the best way to help our planet is to consume less.

  • Less wasted food
  • Less unnecessary transport
  • Less inessential clothing
  • Less superfluous outdoor gear

Just less.

Sustainability can be fun and it can even save you money

Like many people, over the last few years I’ve been taking a personal journey into more sustainable ways.

I’ve been exploring the possibilities of outdoor adventure by public transport (especially train).

And I’ve been investigating alternative ways to find food (including giving up supermarket shopping for a whole year).

I’ve enjoyed both the challenge and the excitement of exploring physically and metaphorically new ways of living.

Give me a follow over on Instagram and subscribe to my blog if you want to find out what Eco-Fi and her ‘anywhere, everywhere, all at once’ jumper get up to next.

 

 

 

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