Second-hand September

We’ve had Plastic Free July what now? Second-hand September! Also known as No New September. So, what is it and how can you take part?

What is it?

Simple. Started by the charity Oxfam, Second-hand September is a personal promise to not purchase anything new for the entirety of September. Of course, this doesn’t include food, we’re talking clothes, furniture and gadgets etc. Not only does this give you an opportunity to save some money, it also makes you re-evaluate your consumer habits and make use of what you already have.

Why are we doing it?

The fast fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters on our planet, from the gallons of water required in the processing of materials to the non-biodegradability of most synthetic fibres. Fast fashion brands also have a sordid history of human right violations, with dangerous working conditions and slave wages for most of their workers. There have also been reports of large fashion brands baling all of their old stock together and slicing it up to prevent it from being re-sold or donated.

Second-hand September is a good way of taking a stand against fast fashion and the current culture of disposability and cheap junk. If enough of us join this boycott, then it will send a serious message to these brands that they must start taking responsibility for their environmental impact.

So, what if something crops up that you don’t have the supplies for? Well there are two main options to consider before heading into town to peruse the shops.

1.      Ask friends and family.

Say you have a smart event that you need to attend, or you’ve been asked to help out with a bake sale. Instead of just buying a new outfit or stocking up on baking supplies just ask around to see if your friends and family have something that you could use. Most of the time someone that you know will have almost exactly what you’re looking for, and if not they may know someone who has.

2.      Check out your local charity shop

This is also a great way to support another good cause. Check out your local charity shops to see if they have what it is that you’re looking for. The bonus of this is that most of the items that you find in a charity shop won’t come with unwanted plastic or packaging.

Use this as an opportunity to connect with others, sharing clothes and other items. Try going to a local swap meet to see if you can pick up something special and maybe get rid of items that you haven’t used in a long time.

The Negative Impact of Fast Fashion

The emergence of the fast fashion industry has not only caused an impact on most peoples bank accounts but also on the economy of the third world countries that supply this industry and on the environment as a whole.

Back in the 1950s and before there were a maximum of 4 seasons in the fashion calendar, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, or sometimes only two seasons, Winter and Summer (dress for the cold and dress for the warm). Now with the advent of fast fashion we have on average 52 seasons a year, this constant creation and movement of new clothes requires the growth of more materials, the use of more chemicals and results in more waste.

Most fast fashion companies outsource their production to members of third world countries because they know that they can pay them less and exploit lax health and safety laws, whilst touting about how they are helping these countries and their employees because ‘this way they have a job and are earning money’. Never mind that this money may not be enough to feed their family, or that their employees risk death and illness in these factories.

As well as causing a negative impact on the world environment, fast fashion also has an impact on our wallets. Whilst most high street shops offer their clothes for a good price, this quick change in stock often results in people buying more clothes than they need, often clothes that they will only wear once. There have also been reports of big name companies taking overstock and slicing it with packaging knives so that it cannot be resold or donated once new stock comes in, thus driving more sales.

So what to do?

Try shopping only when you know that you need something. I never window shop and only go into town when i’m looking for something in particular, this helps me to save money which then means that I can afford to buy something that I really want that is usually of higher quality and will therefore last longer. Also, moving my thinking from ‘I want that’ to ‘do I need that?’ has reduced the effect that advertising has on me. Instead of being sold on the lifestyle that these companies are claiming to provide, I now see adverts for what they are, a company trying to get my money by making me feel inferior.

Shop in charity shops. Whilst they may not always have what you want charity shops are a great place to find a bargain and you may stumble across a hidden gem. I’d been wanting a leather style jacket for ages but didn’t want to buy one from the high street, then whilst I was looking for a scarf in my local charity shop I stumbled upon a second hand leather jacket for £6! The other upside to supporting charity shops, other than the obvious, is that by buying at charity shops I can reduce the amount of things thrown away and I can extend a clothing’s lifespan.

Try making some stuff for yourself. Now this isn’t going to be for everyone, I enjoy sewing and making things so the prospect of making an outfit for myself is quite exciting, for some of you that is probably not your idea of fun and that’s okay. Dressmakers and tailors are still around and will make something for you that fits perfectly and will last longer than the cheap mass produced items.

For more information about the fast fashion world and the impact it has on the environment, third world countries and your own pocket then I highly recommend watching ‘The True Price’ on Netflix, it goes much more in-depth into the impact the fashion industry has and ways in which you can help combat it.