Second Hand September - what is it?

What is Second Hand September & Why do we need to promote secondhand shopping?

Learn the history of Second-hand September and what shopping secondhand looks like

By Ashwathi Rajiv

The second hand September movement is more than just a social media campaign. We’ve always had clothes passed down to me by older siblings or cousins. Over time, we have come to cherish those pieces much more than new ones. Our belongings hold our memories, and when we give them away, we are giving the new owner a part of us. 

This brings me to introducing Oxfam’s initiative – Second Hand September to break the wheel. Taking part in Oxfam’s pledge will allow not just fashion lovers to rethink the month associated with Fashion Week, but also understand how secondhand is the new way to shop.

Second-hand September- What is it?

Sustainability is like the first course of action at Oxfam. Oxfam is a major nonprofit international organisation focused on alleviating global poverty and inequality. The British leg of Oxfam started the #SecondHandSeptember campaign back in 2019. The campaign encourages people to avoid buying new clothing for the entire 30 days of the month. It aims to raise awareness of the environmental impact of fashion.

Today it is a global movement and is not just limited to fashion. Second-hand September encourages shopping for preloved items across all types and styles of products.

Secondhand shops are becoming more popular nowadays because of the vintage trend. These stores also support the idea of reusing and avoiding the accumulation of unwanted clothes. As the purchase of secondhand items appears to be, in our opinion, an excellent way to consume responsibly. 

Within the Indian culture, the passing down of our clothing to the next of kin has been an ancient tradition that continues to date. With sustainability being the mission, it’s essential to continue this practice. So, have the conversation within your personal circles. Set an example by choosing secondhand and let people know how much easier to embrace change when it’s done together.

Why do we need to celebrate secondhand shopping?

The fashion industry is nasty in its practices and results in large textile waste. As stated above, the movement started as a way to reduce the amount of fashion waste & encourage people to consume clothes consciously by taking a fashion fast for a month.

The main principles surrounding Second hand September include:

  1. Reduce your Waste
    India produces 52.9 million tonnes of solid waste each year. This creates a big waste problem that occupies space, harms the health of people living around landfills and is causing environmental degradation.
    Reducing your waste is the most effective way to bring this number down and create a big individual impact on the environmental crisis. Secondhand shopping is a great way to consume something already existing in the market and get something new at affordable prices.

  2. Reuse your Pre-loved Items
    Secondhand does not just mean buying old from someone else it is also about using and loving what you already own. Think using what you have the most, borrowing or swapping items with friends and family.

  3. Recycle unwanted items
    Another step to reducing waste is to segregate your waste by doing a waste audit and sending items to eligible items for recycling. Second-hand September can be a great opportunity to begin recycling initiatives at home or the workplace. Start by learning about the different types of plastic and which ones can be recycled.

  4. Reinvest in Communities
    Waste management is a system that is operated by people from economically backward communities. They are underpaid for the work they do, face health hazards each day and are rarely thanked for their service. Thus, stand up and speak for the rights of these communities to ensure a healthy and green future for all.
Secondhand September campaign posters by OxfamGB
Secondhand September campaign posters by OxfamGB

How to celebrate Second hand September?

Second hand September is a 30 day celebration of erasing your consumption patterns and not buy anything new for a month. Instead buy and exchange secondhand items. Here are some ideas to get you started on your secondhand shopping journey.

1. Arrange a Community Swap

Community swaps can be a great way to bond with your friends and neighbours during a cut-down on your spending habits. Start with a clothing swap with friends. Choose 5 pieces from your wardrobe that you’d like to get rid of and ask your friends to do the same. Get together, put on some music and try on different pieces and make a great evening out of it.

2. Thrift it up

There are quite a few vetted thrift stores you can find online. This Second-hand September, you can pick and choose stunning statement pieces and really create a pattern of consumption for yourself. Find a list of thrift stores here to get you started.

3. Repair & Mend

While second-hand September is all about promoting secondhand shopping as a first source of consumption rather than buying new items, this month can also be an opportunity to show some extra love to your existing items. The most sustainable answer is already in your cupboards, wardrobes and vanities.

With the internet and abundant knowledge at the tip of your fingers, it’s effortless to teach yourself how to repair minor wear and tears. In fact, we can assure you, it’ll make you more appreciative of your belongings. Try it!

4. Upcycle & Repurpose

If you’re someone who enjoys a project, then it’s time to get yourself a toolbox. Upcycling essentially means turning an existing product into another product. A classic example- turning a t-shirt into a tote bag. Use the pieces you already have and make them one-of-a-kind. This is your opportunity to embrace your interest and make an impact on the world.

Let Second-hand September be the month you make a change. Change the way you consume, change the way you dispose of and change the way you preserve. Let us know how you celebrated Second Hand September 2021!

Ashwathi is a freelance writer and is new to conscious living. Her most prominent badge of honour is that she hasn’t shopped in two years. Check out her journey towards sustainability and how she makes the best out of what she already has on her Instagram page.

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