Many Americans attend ugly Christmas sweater parties. But in Britain, there’s even an annual Christmas Jumper [another term for “sweater”] Day that fuels the trade in hideous holiday garb. Now, research by the environmental charity Hubbub blames ugly sweaters as yet another contributor to the plastic pollution crisis.

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The study found that one in three adults under 35 buys a new holiday sweater every year, but two in five of these sweaters are worn only once over the holiday season. Three-quarters of the sweaters Hubbub tested revealed at least some plastic in the material, with 44 percent being entirely made of acrylic, a plastic fiber. A study by Plymouth University concluded that acrylic releases nearly 730,000 microfibers per wash, which is five times more than poly-cotton blends.

Related: 17 easy ways to upcycle worn out sweaters

“We don’t want to stop people dressing up and having a great time at Christmas, but there are so many ways to do this without buying new,” Sarah Divall, the project coordinator at Hubbub, told The Guardian. “Fast fashion is a major threat to the natural world, and Christmas jumpers are problematic as so many contain plastic. We’d urge people to swap, buy secondhand or rewear, and remember a jumper is for life, not just for Christmas.”

Hubbub estimates that retailers will sell 12 million new holiday sweaters this year, even though 65 million Christmas jumpers are already stowed in U.K. wardrobes. Why not swap with family, friends, housemates or workmates? Host a craft night with friends to refurbish an old sweater using pompoms, sequins, strings of lights or bits recycled from other clothes to create your own look.

Christmas Jumper Day is not only a tradition that many Brits enjoy; it’s also a fundraiser for Save the Children, which fights child poverty and hunger. Luckily, participants can still donate to the cause and also upcycle an old sweater rather than buying a new one to fight plastic pollution.

+ Hubbub

Via The Guardian

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