Second Hand September – What it is and why you should join

by Cath

You know I’m a big fan of buying second hand.

I love how buying second hand helped me discovered my personal style and also how available it is to everyone. While you can reduce your waste and save money, a lot of the tips that I see that are shared online are on the elitist side – and although I try my best to make zero waste less privileged, I know that being able to worry about the environment and not whether or not I can eat today comes from a privileged position.

I first came across this challenge through Charlotte from Girl Next Door Fashion, she always shares great content and I was thrilled that I found this challenge through her. I’m all about buying second hand and these challenges are a great way to push people into action.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s first talk about what is second hand september!

What is Second Hand September?

The campaign, organised by the charity Oxfam, aims to raise awareness to the enviromental impact of fashion.

The goal is to shop only second hand for the month of September. I’m personally taking a step further and wearing at least one second hand item for the whole month. Join me on Instagram to see my daily outfits!

Enviromental impact of the fashion industry

The carbon footprint of clothing consumed in one year, 2015, is 195 million tonnes CO2e. The use phase is shown to have the largest carbon impact for the EU as a whole, although production also accounts for nearly a third of CO2e emissions.(*)

Over 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the apparel/footwear industry

Fast fashion has introduced a huge problem: by making clothes more affordable, clothes have become more disposable than ever. Clothes are no longer made to last but to make us go back to the store regularly.

This means, not only that we’re buying more – consuming more planet resources and polluting our planet to manufacture them – but we’re also disposing clothes more frequently.

This poses a huge problem: good clothes are being thrown away. As a society, we’re not aknowledging the amount of work and raw materials that clothes are using up.

So, how to combat that? Buy used clothes.

That’s what Oxfam is asking you to do this month. Keep clothes out of the landfill, sell your old ones and buy second hand. Giving more opportunity to clothes that people no longer want but are still in perfect condition.

This challenge started in the UK, I don’t see any reason not to extend it worldwide. We all need to be more in touch with our own consumption.

clothes in a clothes rack in swap

Why should you join Second Hand September?

It’s fun!

First of all, it’s fun!

I could leave this to last but let’s be real: it’s fun to challenge yourself to wear second hand clothes for a whole month. Decision fatigue is real and I’m looking forward to have rules on what to wear in September.

Follow people on Instagram to get inspiration and ideas on outfits! The hashtag is #SecondHandSeptember.

Join me on Instagram and share your outfits (tag me! I’d love to see them!) using second hand clothes! Or just keep it to yourself but document it somehow. Documenting the process it’s a good way to keep yourself motivated.

Become aware of your shopping habits

You need to be more aware of your own consumption. It can be difficult to realize how much you buy until you participate in a challenge like this.

If you don’t know how much you buy, it can be difficult to understand the environmental impact that your purchases are creating.

I understand that it might be difficult for someone that never bought something secondhand to start buying everything secondhand, but there’s no need to go from a all or nothing approach.

Try it out for a month.

That’s the whole point of having a challenge that only lasts for a month.

Instead of buying something new, try to buy it second hand (buying second hand is not gross!), or if you can, don’t buy it at all.

Plus, it will give you a good perspective on your consumption and give you some alternatives when thinking about buying new in the future.

Learn what is slow fashion

In the same line of thought, buying secondhand takes a little bit more work and it’s a good way to assess if you’re becoming used to instant gratification.

I’m not going to lie, sometimes buying second hand it’s easy but almost always, it takes more time. It depends on what you are trying to find and if you are very specific on what you’re trying to find, you’ll probably take longer to find it.

If you’ve become used to the convenience of having everything readily available, this is a good month to make you stop.

Before you press the checkout button, stop and think:

Do I really need this?

Can I buy it second hand?

Do I really need it right away?

These are the questions you should ask yourself.

Maybe you can even borrow it from someone instead of buying it for just one event.

Buying second hand teaches you to become more patient when buying clothes.

Enviromental and social impacts

I’ve already mentioned above how fashion has a huge environmental impact.

Everytime that you’re throwing away good clothes, you are wasting resources and more resources are consumed to manufacture the new clothes that you’re buying next.

By buying second hand, you’re allowing these clothes to have a longer lifespan thus consuming less resources.

And, if you don’t care about the environment, you should at least care that a lot of people who make your clothes are not provided good working conditions.

Fortunately this is slowly changing but still not changing fast enough.

A Bangladeshi worker would need to be paid 4.5 times more than the current minimum vage to afford a decent living standard and almost nine times more to support a family.

One in every two women workers in garment factories in Southeast Asia has experienced sexual harassment.

I don’t want to contribute to this. The fact that your clothes are cheap comes with a cost to someone else.

By buying second hand, even if you’re buying clothes from companies who contribute to this, you are not giving your money to them. You are either supporting a second hand shop or giving money to someone who would otherwise throw that piece of clothing in the trash.

You can read more about the social and environmental impacts in detail on Fashion Revolution 2020 Issue.

Participate in Second Hand September!

And, did I mention how fun it will be?

Join me and let’s have fun!


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