If you haven’t heard of #SecondHandSeptember yet, where have you been? Consumers are buzzing for more sustainable alternatives when it comes to fashion and personal style, and that buzz has affected even fashion weeks.
The depressing fact is that every week 11 million items of clothing end up in landfills. This is in the Western world alone. And when these items of clothing are made out of polyester and pesticide-infested cotton, they take over 200 years to disintegrate.
Our planet obviously can’t take this sort of consumption, and even though we all know deep down it’s already too late, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something about it.
The British charity store chain, Oxfam, launched the #SecondHandSeptember campaign to raise awareness on this issue, and to bring people together to showcase what amazing finds can be made in secondhand shops.
Oxfam is challenging you to spend these 30 days buying new clothes only from secondhand stores. You can share your finds for everyone to see on Instagram and Twitter with the appropriate #.
I think this idea is brilliant. Every little thing we can do towards a healthier planet, we should definitely do! Fast fashion brands are
greenwashing lying to us with “Conscious collections” and “Join Life” initiatives, that are there only to make you feel better about yourself while still destroying the planet we live on.
Why Shopping Isn’t Going To End?
But no matter what we do, the shopping culture isn’t going anywhere. People will always feel the need to shop, because we love to update our style, and to boost our egos.
Instead of telling people they can’t shop anymore, we need to make it impossible for everyone to shop in fast fashion stores that literally kill people and the environment. But how do we do that when sustainable fashion brands can’t meet the growing demand for, for example, eco-friendly cotton clothes?
Sustainable clothing production isn’t (yet) as efficient as fast fashion. But it will be soon! New technologies appear on the fashion landscape all the time, and there already ARE brands that are creating clothes without abusing people or environment. We just need a lot more of them.
I do love shopping but lately I haven’t done much of it (read how I didn’t shop for a year). I simply accepted the fact that I don’t need anything new.
I have multiple winter jackets in mint condition, I’ve got tops and trousers to spare, and when I feel like I’ve got nothing to wear, I make new outfits out of the pieces I already have.
Why Second Hand Shopping Isn’t For Me?
When I do need something new, I would never opt for a second hand store. Even though I know what sorts of treasures one can find there! Many of my friends have found luxury brand items in pristine condition, from shoes to bags to tops, for a fraction of the original price.
But the thing with second hand shopping, that I greatly struggle with, is patience. You go into the store not knowing what you will find, if anything. You roam through dozens and dozens of clothing racks full of items of all colours, quality and shapes.
And then you find something that you really like, take it out and check the size. Not for you. The disappointment and frustration for having to put it away, because there aren’t any other sizes available, is unbearable for someone as impatient as me. If I want it, I HAVE TO HAVE IT!
The second reason why I rarely vacant second hand stores, of my own accord, is the fact that these clothes have (very likely) been worn by someone else. I’ve lived in so many furnished apartments, thinking about how many people must’ve been farting on that sofa before me, that I just can’t do it anymore.
The same goes for clothes. I do not want something that has previously belonged to someone else. My style is original, so I want my clothes to be as well.
What I Do Instead?
That doesn’t mean, though, that my shopping habits would be overly deteriorating to the planet. As I mentioned, I don’t shop much any more. But when I do, you won’t find me in H&M or Primark. Instead I already know many stores where I can get the clothes that I need, and that fit my aesthetic, sustainably.
But even better than that, I’ve found a way to recycle clothes, which suits me better than visiting second hand stores. I regularly roam through my mum’s closet!
Oh, what treasures can be found in the closet of someone who purchased a majority of their clothes in the 70’s and 80’s! Okay, I admit, the 80’s fashion is something I hate and avoid to all costs. But individual pieces from that era have a lot of potential!
The latest discoveries I’ve made in my mum’s closet were a denim jacket and pink plastic earrings. My mum is a goldsmith’s daughter, so she as A LOT of jewellery, which I regularly raid and thin out her collection in order to increase my own collection.
Before that I found a pair of baggy mum jeans that I, with the help of a friend, turned into a pair of ribbed shorts. All one needs for that process is a pair of scissors and some sand paper. Those shorts are my absolute favourite Summer clothing item.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover
Just imagine, 40-year-old jeans still being worn! This is what fast fashion brands try their best to stop you from doing by making garments that fall apart on purpose after couple wears. They greenwash you and recommend you to buy, buy, BUY more even though we all know by now what it does to the planet.
Instead of playing their game, we need to change the rules completely. And to help us out in minimizing the impact of the waste we create, here are the 4R’s we should all start following right now:
Reduce: First things first, we all gotta take a hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves: Do we really need to shop as much as we do? Could we change the way we shop to a more sustainable direction?
The amount of clothes we buy and toss per week would be ridiculous if it wasn’t so bloody serious. We literally can’t afford to be this stupid anymore. We need all hands on deck to turn the destructive fashion industry’s course, ASAP. And the first thing to do, is to change our own shopping habits.
Reuse: So, you’ve got a party coming up and you’ve got a closet full of dresses. But you’ve already worn each dress once or twice, so the novelty has worn out. You opt to hit the shops.
I’m sorry to pang you with a baseball bat, but are you quite alright? On this day and age, why would you do that!? You’ve got a closet full of dresses, WEAR THEM FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!
And if novelty really is an issue, over which you will lose your sleep, then change the plan: go for a skirt and match it with a party top. Pencil skirt, midi skirt, maxi skirt, mini skirt, crop top, spaghetti shoulder top, bardot neckline top, halterneck top, you have the options, now put your brain to work.
The time for excuses is over.
Recycle: The coolest part in reusing my mum’s old clothes is noticing how different fashion is today and how different our styles are. I style her denim jacket completely differently than how she would’ve done 30 years ago.
Of course, this applies to second hand clothes as well. Somebody else styled them before you.
I wonder if in the future there might be an app where you can see how the garment, that you purchased in a second hand shop, was styled by its previous owner. It’s surprisingly fun to compare styles in this way.
Recover: The great thing about sustainable clothing brands is that they have systems in place to recover the clothes that you want to toss or that have suffered a breakage. These brands take back the item, and then either take the product apart and use the materials again, or repair the product for you so you can keep on using it.
Fixing breakages so that you can enjoy your favourite pieces indefinitely is exactly what PIHKA collection does. And that’s why I’m so proud to work with them. More and more brands like this are popping up all the time.
Many brands already accept back their own worn clothing, and if your chosen brand doesn’t have such services in place, you can request them to start such an initiative. Your local thrift shops might also know of places where you can drop off worn clothes to be re-purposed.
What ever you do, do not send your clothes to landfill.
We need more campaigns like #SecondHandSeptember because I still see too many blog posts and vlogs titled “My Primark Haul!”. These need to end for good. I dunno if it’s possible, but I sure do hope so. For your sake as much as my own. We’re all in this mess together.
Are you participating in #SecondHandSeptember? I’d love to see what finds you’ve made, so please tag #styleoutlandish on Instagram to all your #SecondHandSeptember posts.
If you are not participating, are there other things you’re doing in terms of fashion and style to help the planet?
And even if you’re not interested one bit, I’d love to hear why! We all need to understand all sides of this issue to be able to tackle it appropriately ♥