For the foreseeable future, the world will be continuously trying to adjust and adapt to a new way of living caused by the covid-19 pandemic. In order to get back to some semblance of normality, it is important to get back to some of the values that we hold dear and look to adopt safer and sustainable living.
Social media and the online space has been a beacon for many throughout covid-19 by bringing people together at a time when many might be lonely. It has also enabled businesses to survive through the first set of lockdown measures by helping them to publicize how they have pivoted their businesses, perhaps through new takeaway or delivery options, or discover new ways to grow their business.
However many charities and non-profit organizations are suffering due to the effects of the pandemic with fundraising events not taking place, families not being able to afford the regular and one-off monetary donations they previously could have, not being able to donate items or volunteering. It is important that alongside preparing the world of work and the economy for the new normal, it is crucial we take sustainable and ethical steps moving forward that support these organizations and the planet, such as buying clothes second hand.
This month is Second Hand September and in a world where we are socially distanced what will the second hand scene look like? What procedures will buyers and sellers put in place to encourage these sustainable ways of life?
Second Hand September was set up by Oxfam to encourage people to pledge to shop second hand only for 30 days or more. The campaign is designed to get people thinking about the impact of the garments we choose to wear such as how materials are sourced and how they reach us. For example, when we are looking to purchase a new top or pair of trousers would you consider where they have been made? More than likely, the clothes we are wearing have been produced overseas meaning the clothing industry has a lot to answer for regarding pollution and their carbon footprint. Oxfam says “throwaway fashion is putting increasing pressure on our planet and its people – it’s Unsustainable. Every week 13 million items of clothing ends up in the UK landfill. And did you know it would take 13 years for one person to drink the water needed to make one cotton t-shirt and a pair of jeans? Choosing to shop second hand can help.”
The process of importing clothes and charging very low prices to consumers, meaning they often purchase in bulk, has helped create the culture of ‘fast fashion’ where prices are low throughout the chain. This is combined with new online outlets which are able to reduce prices, due to not having the expense of physical stores, further has enabled a throw away or one wear lifestyle for many. This is where education is essential as many consumers may not have realized the environmental impact of this fast fashion. Whilst the rise in online shopping might have been a prominent contributor to the problem, it could also hold the key to the solution.
To create a safe place to sell clothes online, as well as satisfying the draw that online shopping has over consumers, sites such as Depop have been created to make second hand shopping easy for modern life. A mix between social media and a second hand sales site, Depop was created in 2011 as a platform to not only buy and sell items, but also follow profiles that match your taste and style. It has had a great response reporting that the upcoming generation Z makes up most of its customer base which was particularly noted during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, providing access to the second hand market, the ability to upcycle and the opportunity to expand their own personal style.
Sites such as thrift.plus have also gained popularity, welcoming itself as a second hand site on par with the setup of amazon. This incorporates the second hand selling market, with the efficiency of sale and delivery timescales. There are also sites which enable fashion to be shared across the world, such as houseofvintage.com, hardlyeverwornit.com and thredup.com.
There are also specialist sites available such as stillwhite.com, specializing in second hand wedding dresses. This is an extremely pricey garment that is a one time wear marketed for the biggest day of your lives but will this change for the upcoming generations? A vintage dress that has made others happy before yourself could be a big draw or perhaps a family heirloom that could then be passed down or customized could help to change this trend.
Also whilst some of the usual places we might once have visited for children’s clothing such as yard and boot sales might not seem so viable, looking online for children’s second hand clothes, perhaps on social media sites like Facebook Marketplace, which they very soon outgrow, could help to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry and help to increase the life of each garment.
It is clear that the online scope for the Second Hand World is huge. This is breaking through with new generations and will help to make sure our clothes go further, not only helping us live more ethically, but also having an impact on the planet, so take part this September.