Second-hand September – or buy nothing, ever again?

I posted about No Buy July a while ago. We made a pretty good stab at it, and I was intending to carry it into August. But it’s amazing how quickly old habits return. When we got back from camping, I was feeling a bit down to be honest – I had found the trip pretty hard going, then been really ill when we got home with a stomach bug, which I thought at one point might be Lyme disease from a tick bite (dramatic, moi?), so I’d trooped off to the local Emergency Department on the advice of 111 to wait four hours to be given antibiotics (there’s a whole other blog to be written about the world views of an ex-NHS manager on the state of the public sector today, butI’m not going to be writing it any time soon).

Within a couple of days of getting home, I’d bought chocolate, which is not allowed in our house except in dire emergencies, otherwise we binge eat. I also bought two new tops from Asda, which were super cheap – I have done no direct research on this, but I expect Asda are pretty low down the list when it comes to disastrous fast fashion. And I bought some reallllly lush pyjamas from Marks and Spencer. I LOVE nice pyjamas. So I succumbed to this learned habit that all us good capitalist citizens have been trained to obey – when you feel blue, buy something new. And/or eat some sugar.

There were big posters all over Marks and Spencer about sustainably sourced cotton, and their corporate website says that they have achieved their target of 100% sustainably sourced cotton in March 2019, and are aiming to increase the proportion of Fairtrade, organic and recycled sources to 25% by 2025. I haven’t read all the information about what this actually means, but it’s gone a little way towards assuaging my guilt, particularly given the enormous amount of baby clothes I’ve bought from M&S over the past two years.

Anyway, sustainable or not, my view is still that it’s better to buy as little new as possible. I’ve got over my antipathy to eBay and started buying and selling stuff on there – the root of the antipathy is basically that I thought it was a huge load of hassle to upload items for sale, and that to buy stuff you had to invest huge amounts of time in watching bids, but actually it can be done much more simply, and you can buy pretty much anything. I’ve bought an OS map, some leggings for me (which I thought might be a bit ick but were totally fine), and some clothes for the ever-growing small one, plus some books and an amazing Melissa and Doug latch board, which he loves.

Oxfam are running a Second Hand September campaign, asking people to pledge to buy no new clothes in September and highlighting the environmental impact of fast fashion. 11 million items of clothing go to landfill every week, just in the UK. This terrifies me. I have a bunch of other interesting references and articles about fast fashion to share sometime when I’ve got the concentration span for a more analytical post, but for now, here’s some rambling reflections.

There must be enough clothes in the world for everyone, for a really long time. When you expand your brain and think about what would happen if we just stopped manufacturing clothes and bought or gifted second-hand only, it’s kind of mind-blowing. What would the economic impact be? What would happen to everyone whose jobs depend on making and selling new clothes? But what would happen within our communities if we shared, gifted, traded used clothing as a matter of course? What would happen if Saturday shopping centre trips to buy new clothes wasn’t a hobby anymore? What would people do instead? It’s mega.

Anyway, maybe take the Oxfam pledge for September and see how you feel. Maybe join the Extinction Rebellion fashion boycott. Check out eBay, Facebook marketplace and selling groups, car boot sales, or charity shops if you’re not dragging a toddler around with you. Weirdly, the small one likes markets and supermarkets but he HATES charity shops. I get three minutes browsing time, max.

I’m writing it here now to make it real – I’m not buying anything new for me or the small one, for the rest of the year. And I’m going to have a crack at second-hand Christmas too…

Meanwhile (and this is the reason for the posting hiatus, alongside a non-napping small person cutting some teeth), I’m working with a new local friend to launch a local Buy Nothing Project group. It’s ridiculously exciting but also a bit scary. More soon.

Join the Conversation

4 Comments

  1. There is a growing trend for recycling School uniforms. Kids cans grow out of them in one term. take in outgrown uniform (obviously not ripped etc) and pick up next size. This is especially good for jumpers or anything that has the school badge on them. Why not mums have a coffee morning to exchange toddlers clothes etc. Perhaps they do it is a long time since I had a toddler. Why buy new as you say. Remember though this is another hit on the high street.

    Like

  2. Just a small word of warning! Someone close to me buys a lot of secondhand clothes and recently had to deal with a rather long bout of scabies. The doctor thought that this was probably the source having gone through all the other possibilities.

    Like

    1. So I’ve done a bit of research on this and it seems you can most likely avoid this if you wash everything as soon as you debag it, and tumble dry on hot for 20 mins. So fingers crossed no scabies here!

      Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: