Did you know that every week in the UK, 13 million items of clothing enters landfill? No, I didn’t either and I find it shocking that so many people just throw clothes away!
This September, Oxfam has launched its #SecondHandSeptember pledge which encourages people to only shop second hand for the whole month.
But what does #SecondHandSeptember stand for?
It is the fight against throw away or ‘fast’ fashion. With trends changing more regularly than the weather in Wales, some items may be worn less than 5 times before it is discarded. This puts many pressures on the planet as well as people. Second-hand September aims to reduce the amount of clothes ending up on the tip, and instead, offering it a new lease of life in someone else’s life or wardrobe.
So, what do I have to do?
The first step is to pledge your support to the movement. It is easy to do, just head to Oxfam GB and sign up for free. Then head across to Instagram, post using #SecondHandSeptember and remember to tag @oxfamgb. Bringing awareness to this pledge it just as important as the ‘doing’. The more people who get on-board the sustainable train, the longer our planet will survive.
Now you have made the decision to support this movement, you only buy second-hand clothes for the month. Easy, right? Well, it can be and in this post you will find out what you can do to make changes, not just for September, but for life.
What else can I do?
- Donate – This is a good reason to have a clear out of your own. Sift through your clothes and donate the ones you don’t want to charity. Not only does this pledge aim to save the planet, but also help our charities with their hard work.
- Recycle – The clothes that are a bit worse for wear don’t have to end up on the rubbish pile. Simply reinvent the items into something new; a cushion cover? a patchwork quilt? maybe a new item of clothing? The choices are endless and there is plenty of inspiration online. If you really have no use for it anymore, find your local textiles/clothes recycling centre or drop off point.
- Upcycle – Turn stained or faded clothes into refreshed pieces with clothes dyes or other hacks. Worn bits? I’ve heard patches are back in fashion. Also ripped jeans are in fashion so just make a few more rips which look like they are meant to be there. Or simply turn old jeans/trousers into short, using wonderweb you don’t even need to be able to sew (although this would be advisory for longevity).
- Cloth Swap parties – Not everyone will be buying clothes this month, so why not get a few people together (social distancing of course) and have a swap party. You could even host this online and arrange times/places to do the exchanges. If you are not comfortable hosting/organising one yourself, look in your local area for clothes swap events. They are becoming more popular recently, and are a great way to off-load unwanted items as well as pick up a few new ones.
- Sell – With finances uncertain, people are turning to sites like eBay again for bargain buys. With so many platforms allowing the ability to sell these days, selling online couldn’t be easier. Check different sites for fees (such as listing and selling), and look out for special deals; eBay often do £1 selling fee weekends.
Still not sure?
Ok, second-hand clothes are not going to be for everyone. I personally love a good find, but I draw the line at used shoes and handbags! Why? I guess it is because you can’t wash these items and I don’t like the idea of someone else’s dirt on my feet, hands, and belongings. I would buy ‘new’ items from a charity shop though, just not used ones.
Instead of buying second-hand, you could find sustainable shops instead. These could be independent retailers, sustainable high-street brands, or companies that specialise in recycling/reworking clothes. My two best finds are:
- Blue Rinse prides itself on reworking, recycling, and remaking clothes out of vintage and charity shop finds. Founded in 1997 in Leeds, this amazing company have expanded its business and you can even find concession stands in popular shops such as River Island on Cardiff Queen St [See main pic].
- Oxfam Boutiques often have high-end designer labels at a fraction of the RRP. Big labels often donate brand new stock that isn’t selling to free up stockroom space, as well as the usual second-hand donators with a more expensive wardrobe. These items end up in more upmarket Oxfam shops, one of which can be found on St Mary St, Cardiff. Grab a Ralph Lauren top for £20, or Burberry trousers for £80…. Bargains!
Avoid ‘fast’ fashion items and only buy items that will have a long-life span. Creating a capsule wardrobe is a great way to ensure you have the clothes you need without over buying, or choosing high fashion pieces that only work in limited situations or combinations.
Every time you buy an item, donate one. Not only is this a great way you will keep on top of your clothes collections, but you will be helping by reducing the landfill stats, helping a charity raising much needed funds, and helping someone who can’t afford brand new clothes.
Start a 6-month rule in your closet. If you haven’t used something in the allotted time, then it is time to move it on to a new home, either through donating, re-selling, or swapping. If you leave tags on your new clothes until they are used, it makes identifying these items easier. It also means it will be worth more on the resale market (either private sales, or donations to charity).
Don’t hang onto clothes that don’t fit or you will never wear again. I do have 2 sets of clothes (summer and winter) but a lot of my clothes are interchangeable, such as t-shirts, jeans, and jackets. I store the shorts away during the colder months and jumpers in the warm months. But only the ones I know I will wear again.
Why stop at clothes? Have a good look around your home/garage/shed and see what else you can donate, sell, upcycle, or recycle. I will be upcycling my bedside table this month using left-over paint, scraps of wallpaper, and some door knobs I bought for something else but never used them.
This month I am going to practice what I am preaching! Not one to throw things away (anything that is in good condition, not just clothes) my garage is full!!
This month I pledge:
- to make a concerted effort to sell, donate, and recycle as much as I can. Not just clothes, but mainly clothes.
- to not buy anything new this month for myself or my house (my daughter might not join in!).
Who is with me? Follow my #SecondHandSeptember efforts on Instagram @lifeofacrazymum