What is Second Hand September?

Second Hand September is a campaign that encourages people to only purchase second hand items for the month of September. The campaign, which was started by Oxfam, has been running since 2019 and, in that time, has inspired thousands of people to shop more sustainably and to think about their fashion shopping habits.

The fashion industry has a carbon footprint that outweighs international flights and shopping combined. Fast fashion alone is thought to produce as much as 92 million tonnes of waste every year across the globe.

Author’s tip: If you want to learn more about the effects of fast fashion on our environment, I recommend you watch The True Cost, a documentary that brings the truth of the industry to light.

While the Oxfam campaign was launched with fashion in mind, Second Hand September doesn’t just have to be about buying second hand clothes. From buying preloved books to swapping services, here are our top tips for finding the best bargains and doing your bit for the planet this Second Hand September.

Shop second hand

Sites like eBay, Depop, and (my personal favourite) Vinted are a great way to find new pieces for your wardrobe. The wonderful thing about buying preloved items online is that you can often find one-of-a-kind pieces, all from the comfort of your sofa!

Charity shops are a great place to nab a bargain, with some hidden gems often lurking on the rails. The best part? You are also contributing to a great cause when you purchase from a charity shop.

Second hand shops aren’t just great for fashion lovers! If you are a keen reader, then buying your books second hand is another great way to support Second Hand September. Many charity shops sell books, and there are a ton of second hand book shops across East Sussex, such as Much Ado Books in Alfriston; The Hastings Bookshop in Trinity Triangle, Hastings; and Camilla’s Bookshop in Eastbourne. You can also buy preloved books on websites such as Amazon and World of Books.

If, like me, you get through books like nobody’s business and can’t afford your reading addiction, then why not join your local library? Borrowing books is another fantastic way of getting your reading fix, and the library is a great place to meet fellow literature lovers!

GumTree and Facebook Marketplace are also treasure troves of preloved items. Whatever you can think of, you can most likely find on there! Another favourite of ours is Preloved, a listings website for second hand items ranging from camping equipment to jewellery.

Upcycle your items

Another way of diverting clothes away from landfill and sprucing up items you already own is upcycling. Upcycling is the process of transforming items into new ones, either by patching them up or by completely revamping them. It is also the perfect chance to get creative!

If you have a pair of jeans with a hole in them, there is no need to get rid of them. Dig out your sewing kit and fix them up yourself; use this handy video from Oxfam to check out just how easy it is to do. Or why not channel your inner Daisy Duke and turn tired looking jeans into a pair of shorts? Denim is actually one of the most unsustainable materials, with its production process consuming vast quantities of water and energy, so try and upcycle your denim pieces wherever you can before throwing them away. Have a look on Pinterest for more denim upcycling inspo!

When it comes to old fabrics that need a bit of a fresh look, such as t-shirts or even cushion covers, why not consider tie dyeing them? Tie dyeing preloved items of clothing is one of my personal favourite ways to repurpose old clothes that I no longer wear. Bleach tie dye is a great way to bring a dark t-shirt back from the dead, and coloured fabric dye in a tie-dye pattern will give that white vest top a new lease of life. You can have loads of fun with different patterns and designs, and voila, you have a brand-new fashion statement piece!

Swap with friends

We’re all guilty of holding onto items that we no longer wear, letting them gather dust at the back of the wardrobe. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so why not get together with friends and have a clothes and items swap? From shoes to art supplies, houseplants to winter coats, gather everything you no longer use or wear and get together with friends to see if they might have a use for it all!

I recently attended a clothes swap at a friend’s house where we all donated items that we no longer wore, and every single one of us came away with armfuls of “brand new” pieces that night! Anything left over was taken to charity shops to ensure there was no waste at all.

The best part was when the host gave us all little aloe babies from her giant aloe vera plant. My aloe vera baby is now thriving and adding some succulent-sass to my kitchen windowsill!

Social Value Marketplace

The East Sussex Social Value Marketplace has been designed to enable the sharing of resources and encourage partnership working and collaboration across sectors.

Organisations within the community can post requests for help and can also offer their services to others in need. The site is a free resource to help give the community of East Sussex a voice and build connections.

Final thoughts

To follow the movement online, check out the hashtag #SecondhandSeptember for tips, inspiration, and to share your own second hand purchases.

As we all become more aware of how our shopping choices have a lasting effect on the planet, this attitude shouldn’t be limited to just one month. The concept of Second Hand September is to get us all thinking more sustainably about our choices, changing our mindset and avoiding industries like fast fashion wherever possible.

Let’s all do our bit for the planet!