As #SecondHandSeptember is with us again, I thought it would be timely to look at some of the benefits of buying used clothing for this week’s five frugal things round up.
What is #SecondhandSeptember, you may ask? It is one antidote to our current throwaway fashion culture, which is totally unsustainable. Organised by Oxfam, you can sign a pledge to buy no new items of clothing for the entire month here.
Hopefully, once you try this and realise just how many brilliant items you can pick up used but in excellent condition, you will be converted! Here are just some of the benefits of buying used clothing.
Five Benefits of Buying Used Clothing
1# You save money
Like used cars, clothing doesn’t tend to hold much value. This means that you can very often pick up items in near perfect pre-loved condition for just a fraction of the cost purchased new.
Buying second hand doesn’t mean buying worse quality. In fact, I have found the reverse to be the case and often pick up much better quality items than I would normally be able to afford.
Children’s clothing, especially baby and toddler items, is easy to find in little worn condition. The National Childbirth Trust frequently runs nearly new sales around the country with fabulous used clothing and equipment. Hopefully, they will be back up and running again soon.
Probably the only items of clothing I don’t buy second hand are knickers and socks. Everything else is worth my consideration!
2# You prevent clothing going to landfill
By extending the life of clothing, wearing each item and repairing if necessary until worn out, you prevent masses of perfectly usable products clogging up our landfill sites.
Oxfam says that each week in the UK alone, 13 million items of clothing end up in landfill. But the story doesn’t end there. According to Remake, an organisation campaigning to improve the sustainability of the clothing manufacturing process and protect the workforce (often working in poor conditions for low rates of pay internationally):
“Globally, 80% of discarded textiles are doomed for the landfill or incineration. Only 20% are actually reused or recycled. The clothing that ends up in landfills can sit there for 200-plus years, and as it decomposes, it emits methane—a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon.”
3# You save resources
One of the most common fabrics used to make clothing is cotton. This is a particularly thirsty crop, using huge amounts of land and water. This causes stress in areas of the world already under pressure from lack of land and water for food production, and also creates a lot of pollution from pesticides and the manufacturing process.
Synthetic fabrics use less water but create more greenhouse gases in their manufacture. They also release polluting particles into the water system when they are washed.
All illustrations above used are courtesy of Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign.
4# You help to build a sustainable economy
Most of us know in our heart of hearts that we cannot continue with our consumer culture. The world’s resources may seem plentiful, but they aren’t endless.
By slowing down the amount each of us consumes, by being thoughtful about the environmental impacts of every one of our purchasing decisions and by reducing waste in all areas of our lives, we can make a positive impact.
Eschewing fast fashion and buying second hand is a great way to start to build a more sustainable economy.
5# You support charities
Many charities rely on their shops for much of their fund-raising. Like other retailers, they have taken a huge financial hit during the pandemic. If you have never supported them before, now is the time to go in and have a browse, make some purchases and contribute to a good cause in the process.
I have written about topic of used clothing before here, but buying pre-loved is not just about the benefits of buying second hand clothing. Pretty much any furniture items can be purchased second hand, along with cars, bikes, tools and kitchen items. You can even get things free by signing up to organisations such as Freegle and Freecycle.
Do you buy your clothing second hand? Where do you find your best bargains?