WORDS ANNABEL DITCHFIELD
As we reach the end of Second Hand September, it's worth reflecting on ways we can promote sustainable fashion that go beyond just one month of the year. Second Hand September was initiated by Oxfam as a way of reducing September’s severe effects on the environment, with London Fashion Week and the arrival of autumn producing huge amounts of fashion waste. The idea is that you only buy second-hand clothes for 30 days over September as a way of saving the planet. However, to combat the damaging effects of the fashion industry on the environment in the long term, it is essential to find other creative ways to reduce fashion’s harmful effects all year long and Annabel Ditchfield has you covered:
Shop Vintage + Second-hand
Buying vintage and second-hand clothing is a great way to reduce fashion waste and bring back life to old clothes. From charity shops to sites such as Vestiaire Collective and Vinted there are many ways to find pre-loved items. Not only is this a fantastic way to find bespoke pieces and add texture to your wardrobe, but it will also help to reduce amounts of fashion waste that would otherwise end up in landfill sites or burnt. According to Dana Thomas’ recent book, Fashionopolis, currently, 2.1 billion tonnes of clothing are thrown away each year. Buying second-hand is an easy way to reduce this.
As well as buying second-hand clothing, there are also a growing number of sites that allow you to rent items. Hurr and Rotaro are popular sites, and both offer a discount on your first rental. However, if you can, steer clear of renting items from the latest season as this only encourages people to buy the latest fast fashion trends. It is also worth putting pieces from your wardrobe up for rent. This will help to grow rental sites and motivate more people to rent in the future.
If you are going to buy new clothes once in a while, think carefully about where you shop. While many companies today claim to be eco-friendly, it is not always the case, and a lot of greenwashing goes on. Often it is best to opt for brands committed to producing a few small collections per year and that use sustainable manufacturing techniques, such as using repurposed materials. It is also worth looking at Remake’s unpaid brand directory, which provides each brand with a sustainability report, evaluating things such as waste, workers and materials used.
While it can be tempting to purchase the latest trends from fast fashion companies, given how cheap and easy it can be, it is much more rewarding to shop sustainably. Not only will this ensure you stand out from the crowd, but it will help to reduce the fashion industry’s harmful effects on the planet. For long-term effect, these guidelines should be followed all year round, and not just in September.