I'm all for Second Hand September. Hats off to Oxfam GB for the work they've put into this campaign over the past 5 years - and the big names they've recruited to promote it.
"If we all make small changes, together we can make a difference.”
Sienna Miller, Actress, UK
But does Oxfam's Second Hand September campaign go far enough?
Second Hand September 2023: Is It Enough?
What is Second Hand September?
The premise of Second Hand September is simple: pledge to buy nothing new throughout the month of September. Discover the joy of buying preloved clothing online or in vintage shops, charity shops or preloved stores like Green Heart Collective. This is great news for the planet - reducing waste to landfill, reducing the pollution linked with production and reducing the suffering caused by people around the world producing our clothes in the worst working conditions.
The campaign is of course great news for all those like us who sell preloved clothing. It promotes the positive reasons for making the switch and encourages those who would not normally buy preloved to try it out. Check out our Ten Great Reasons To Buy Preloved if you need convincing.
Does Second Hand September Go Far Enough?
But does Second Hand September go far enough? I'm not convinced. Seven years ago, I set myself a different challenge every month for a year - cut out chocolate, run every day, only drink water, give up alcohol etc. You get the picture. The thing is, looking back, I don't think any of those personal challenges had any long-lasting impact. Once the month was over, I just reverted to the way things were. It's the way of the world: look at how all our lives changed dramatically during the COVID pandemic and how we all believed there would be a new normal. Nothing would ever be the same again. We'd learned lessons about what really mattered. But no - it seems to me things have just gone back to the way they were in most cases.
Let's face it, 30 days is not a long time to forgo a trip to the High Street or an online shopping session. It shouldn't be anyway! We don't need to be buying new clothes that often - that's the habit that needs breaking right there.
Second Hand September Ideas: Go Beyond September!
To be fair, Oxfam itself recognises this. On its page about Second Hand September, Oxfam signposts a blog by Zara from the Oxfam Festivals Team, UK - HOW TO GO SECOND HAND BEYOND SEPTEMBER - in which she explains how for her, shopping second hand has now become a big lifestyle change - not just clothes, but homewares, and even plants!
There is no quick fix out there for the damage that the fashion industry has wreaked on the planet and its people. If we want to see change, then we have to be in it for the long haul. There is no need to buy new. There are enough clothes in circulation already. I remember hearing Patrick on the Great British Sewing Bee saying exactly that.
"We have enough clothing on the planet right now to clothe the next 6 generations of the human race: we have to find ways of using what we’ve got."
Patrick Grant Great British Sewing Bee
Six generations! What right do we have as humans to keep driving mass production and mass consumption and mass landfill mountains of textile waste?
So yes, Oxfam's Second Hand September is a great place to start. But don't ever think that is enough. It's the first step on the ladder of conscious consumerism. Please join us in taking the next step and the next step and the next step.....