How and why you should get involved in Secondhand September 2023
Since 2019, charity Oxfam has been running its 'Second Hand September' campaign, and thousands of people have taken up the challenge of not buying any new items of clothing for 30 days to help lessen the environmental impact and not add to the climate crisis that buying new clothes can be a contributor to. The fashion industry is one of the worst offenders of greenhouse gas emissions.
When a new pair of jeans is made, an estimated 16.2kg of CO2 is emitted – the equivalent of driving over 58 miles in a car.
The idea is that consumers should switch from purchasing brand-new clothes and instead look to purchasing pre-loved clothes as well as donating their second-hand clothes to local charity shops; by recirculating our clothes – buying, wearing and donating second-hand – we can help to reduce the demand for new clothes. And this could, in turn, help to minimise the damage to our planet.
This global movement encourages individuals to take a step back from buying new clothes for the entire month and instead focus on the beauty of second-hand fashion. In this blog post, we'll explore the significance of Second-Hand September and how you can actively participate in this sustainable fashion initiative.
If each adult in the UK donated all the clothes that they have not worn in the past year to charity shops, it could remove the need for 4.9 billion kg carbon entering the atmosphere. That is equivalent to a plane flying around the world more than 6,600 times, or 100,000 flights from London (Heathrow) to Greece (Athens).
The Fast Fashion Problem:
Fast fashion, characterised by cheap, trendy clothing that quickly goes out of style, has wreaked havoc on the environment. The production of these garments often involves harmful chemicals, excessive water usage, and unethical labour practices. Moreover, the throwaway culture it promotes results in an alarming amount of textile waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators.
Enter Second-Hand September:
Second-Hand September is a movement that originated in the United Kingdom but has quickly gained global recognition; after all, climate change doesn't just affect the UK! The goal is simple: abstain from purchasing new clothing for the entire month of September and instead explore second-hand options. This initiative encourages us to rethink our shopping habits, reduce our environmental footprint, support sustainable fashion, and, of course, extend the life of clothes.
According to WRAP, the average adult wardrobe consists of 118 items. Oxfam’s research shows that if half of those items had been bought second-hand, billions of harmful emissions created by manufacturing new clothes would have been prevented. Currently, only 10 per cent of wardrobe contents are second-hand.
Why Participate in Second-Hand September?
Reduce Waste: By opting for second-hand clothing, you divert items from landfills and extend their lifespan.
Support Sustainable Practices: Thrift stores, vintage shops, and online platforms for second-hand clothing offer an eco-friendly alternative to fast fashion.
Save Money: Second-hand shopping often comes with significant cost savings, making it an economical choice. Second-hand shopping can offer you the opportunity to purchase great items and save you the extra cash you might have spent buying brand-new items on the high street or the internet.
Discover Unique Styles: Second-hand shopping can allow you to find pre-loved items that you may not be able to find in regular stores; one person's old clothes can be another person's vintage clothing find of the year!
Donating: Donating your no longer needed clothing to charity shops will give a new lease of life to the clothing and help reduce the amount of clothing going into UK landfill sites unnecessarily. The sale of second-hand clothing will then help give the clothes a longer life, help reduce the cost of clothing to consumers who are already struggling with the cost of living crisis, and at the same time help increase revenue for the charities who can then use this extra money in projects to help people around the world enjoy a better way of life, so its good news for everyone!
How to Participate:
Take Inventory: Start by going through your current wardrobe. Identify items you already own that can be styled differently or mixed and matched to create fresh outfits without the need to spend more cash and help fund one of the most polluting industries.
Visit registered charity Shops: Explore local charity stores, vintage shops, or online resale platforms to find unique and sustainable fashion pieces. Buying second-hand clothes from places such as Facebook Marketplace is a great way to keep clothes from going to landfill and a powerful way of recycling unwanted clothes.
Swap with Friends: Consider organising a clothing swap with friends or family. It's a fun way to refresh your wardrobe without spending money.
Repair and Upcycle: If you have items that need a little TLC, learn basic sewing skills or take them to a tailor to be repaired or upcycled.
Spread the Word: Share your Second-Hand September journey on social media, encouraging others to join the movement.
Second-Hand September is a powerful reminder that our choices as consumers can profoundly impact the environment and the fashion industry. By participating in this initiative, we reduce waste and send a message to the fashion and textile industry that sustainable practices matter. So Oxfam's campaign is a great way to embrace the beauty of second-hand fashion this September and make a positive change for our planet, one piece of clothing at a time.