I am sorry to force on you thoughts of so many battles to come so early in the year, but here – in one neat package – they come: a new survey by Weight Watchers has estimated that shoppers in the UK own £10bn worth of clothes they do not wear.

As ever with these massed and massive figures, it does not look quite so bad when you break it down a bit. The UK shopping population comprises about 50 million of us, which works out at an average of £200 worth of stuff per person failing to fulfil its sartorial destiny.

Still, that’s £200 that could have been better spent elsewhere and countless hours of somebody’s labour – forced, in all likelihood, because we are who and where we are and they are who and where they are, and happy new year by the way! – and so it behoves us to ask how this unworn hoard has come about and what we can do to stop it.

According to the survey, 25% of respondents said the clothes were unworn because the owners were waiting to lose weight to fit into them. This seems – especially if we allow for the possibility that the 2,000 people Weight Watchers polled may have been subject to slight selection bias – remarkably low. At a conservative estimate, I would say 100% of the women I know and 98% of the men would cite this as the reason for any wardrobe relegations.

The survey also says that 10% of their respondents said they were waiting for the clothes to come back into fashion. These people get a pass on the eco-ethical implications of unworn clothes and no little kudos for the amount of storage space they must possess.

For the rest of us, I suspect that the root of the problem lies in the simple fact that most purchases are not fully rational. I have dresses I don’t wear because I bought them for the person I want to be and others I don’t wear because I bought them for the person I am, and who wants to be reminded of that? I have items I keep because they remind me of good times with even better people. I have shoes I bought because they were beautiful and count as objets d’art more than items of apparel, and shoes that have gone unworn because after a first proper, returns-policy-invalidating use they have turned out to be – well, unwearable. There are tops I’ve bought because I had bought nothing else during a day out with a friend that was supposed to be fun. And so on.

It would be better if this, like all irrational acts, could just stop. The year ahead should be filled with only the most mindful of purchases and our wardrobes emptied – into charity shops or friends’ and family’s eager hands, or eBay, as conscience and resale value dictates – of all but the most vigorously employed outfits. But that, I think, includes the things you love, that you employ to evoke the good times and better people who wear so well in memory.