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Oxfam’s Second Hand September initiative may only have been started in 2019, but it’s here to stay. If you’re not familiar with the movement, it’s pretty self-explanatory; only buying preloved clothes for 30 days! Sounds pretty simple, but what’s it all for?
13 million items of clothing wind up in landfill every WEEK. Take a minute to try and picture that, because it’s a LOT. Plenty of those are still new, perfectly wearable, or could simply be repurposed elsewhere. Fast fashion giants churn out thousands of new styles each week, creating an overconsumption problem that’s spiralling out of control. The more people buy into this, the more the cycle continues. New trends mean new clothes; new clothes that get replaced by newer trends. Which means buying more new clothes to keep up. See where we’re going with this?
But it’s not just unwanted garms being chucked out that are fueling the waste crisis. Producing new clothing requires immense resources. All the way from the factory to the shop floor. The textile industry generates 1/5 of the world’s water pollution. Forests are cut down to plant crops that will be turned into fabrics. Chemicals and dyes leech out into waterways and oceans. Finished products are then shipped and flown around the world to be sold which leads to more environmental damage. The fashion industry is already responsible for roughly 8% of carbon emissions according to UN reports. It’s a strain on the environment from start to finish and it’s often unregulated.
And there’s a human cost to all of this. These garments are frequently manufactured in poor conditions by exploited workers. A 2020 Fashion Checker report announced that 93% of workers weren’t being paid a living wage. Switching to slow fashion guarantees that your money isn’t going to companies who don’t value their employees.
So let’s cut down on the waste! Just think how many clothes could be spared if we all helped to reduce demand. Shopaholics needn’t worry though, there are plenty of great ways to treat yourselves to new outfits that aren’t brand new. Let’s take a look…
We had to start here, didn’t we? Vintage is a fantastic way to pick up unique garms you won’t find anywhere else. If you’ve been put off by the old cliches [think dusty rails and moth balls] then you’re in for a shock. Vintage is as on trend as it gets. Yep, you read that right. No matter what’s in style at the moment, you’ll be able to trace its roots back decades. You’ll find original pieces that never lose their charm, often made to a much higher quality too.
Second Hand September wouldn’t exist without it. Charity shops are full of variety you just won’t find anywhere else; designer labels, tonnes of accessories, new pieces with the tags still on, it’s all out there. And you can feel good about your shopping spree because it’s supporting important work. What’s not to love?
We probably don’t need to tell you about the wonders of sites like Ebay and Depop. These guys are brilliant if you’re looking to release bits from your closet AND replenish it. Times are tough and a little extra pocket money plus some extra wardrobe space is good news all round.
Besides helping to fight overconsumption, this month is a great way to break free from the retail rut. Time to step away from the huge high-street names and shop further afield. It’s a fantastic opportunity to find your new favourite shops. And shopping second hand is an excellent way to help support small businesses too. The independents in your city are a treasure trove but they can’t do it without you. Investing your money into small, local stores helps boost the economy and keeps your hard-earned cash away from big brands with dodgy ethics.
Find yourself refreshing the NEW IN section a lot? Second Hand September can help with that. If you’ve been getting a little too fixated on having the newest of the new, there’s no better way to break the cycle. When you stop worrying about those ‘must haves’, you open up thousands of other possibilities.
Don’t forget to donate! It’s the perfect time of year to give your wardrobe an overhaul. Moving your summer clothes into storage creates a great opportunity to part with the looks you don’t love anymore. Pop ‘em in a bag and take it to your local charity shop to give them a new lease of life elsewhere. Second Hand September works the best when the shops are flooded with old clothes looking for new homes. Get involved to boost your fashion karma. Or get selling; if you’ve got some special pieces collecting dust in your closet, why not get the most out of them? You spread the love AND get a little something back, everybody wins.
So you’ve donated a few bits. You’ve treated yourself to some second hand goodies. In fact you’re on a bit of a roll…
Got garms that aren’t quite up to scratch? But they’re not too shabby either? Welcome to the magical world of upcycling.
95% of textile waste could be reused or recycled. Just because fast fashion giants aren’t doing their bit to solve this problem, doesn’t mean you can’t show them how it’s done. With a little help from the internet, you can turn your old jeans into a hundred different things; from shorts to cushion covers to tote bags. If you’ve got the material, there’s an upcycle for that.
And why stop there? If you reckon you can ace Second Hand September, why not keep up the habit? Shopping preloved for the rest of the year could turn into buying better forever. Or perhaps this dip into slow fashion could inspire a new years resolution to make the switch permanent in 2022.
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