Can you really update your wardrobe for autumn using only second hand clothes? Judging by these brilliant buys that were #FoundInOxfam, it looks like the answer is YES
When there’s a new season approaching, it can be tempting to refill your wardrobe with a rail ofbrandnew clothes. But if you want to be a little more eco this autumn, it’s entirely possible to update your look the second hand way, as these gems#FoundInOxfamprove.
With so many clothes being created using man-made fabrics, you’re probably wearing at least one thing that’s plastic. Here’s how it impacts the planet, and what you can do about it.
Trying to slash your plastic use? Chances are you’ll start with the obvious stuff – bottles, bags, food wrapping, straws. But what about the plastics that are less in-your-face? Check the labels in your clothes and you may find a fair amount lurking in your wardrobe, too.
According to the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) , while some man-made textiles (such as rayon and viscose) are created from plant materials chemically dissolved then spun into fibres, most are made from plastic. That includes acrylic, polyamide and – the biggie – polyester, which now makes up approximately 70% of synthetic fibres.
Polyester is also known as polyethylene terephthalate or PET – the same stuff used to make drinks bottles.  And we’re wearing LOTS of it.
According to Greenpeace, polyester is used in about 60% of our clothes, and the expansion of fast fashion simply wouldn’t have been possible without it.  Unfortunately, such fabrics are impacting on our planet in more ways than one.
Let’s start with microplastics – extremely small pieces of plastic that are smaller than the size of a sesame seed. They’re in the environment as a direct result of the breakdown of consumer products.
The EAC says that as much as 20-35% of these microplastics in oceans are from synthetic clothes.  And they can wind up there by way of our washing machines. Research at Plymouth University found that an average washing load of 6kg could release an estimated 469,030 fibres from polyester and a whopping 728,789 from acrylic.  Taking it up a scale, we’re talking potentially trillions of fibres released each week in the UK alone. 
Then there’s climate change. When anything is made using oil pumped from the earth, you know there’ll be repercussions of the CO2 kind. And yes, according to the EAC, petroleum based synthetic fibres like polyester may use less water and land than cotton, but they emit more greenhouse gasses per kilogram. In fact, one study revealed that a polyester shirt has more than double the carbon footprint of a cotton one. 
The fashion industry is fuelling our climate emergency. And it’s something that the world’s poorest people have been feeling the effects of for a long time – yet they’ve contributed the least to the ways we’re destroying our planet. Families are being pushed further into poverty and hunger by increased flooding, droughts and storms, which are destroying lives, homes, livestock and crops.
There’s also no escaping the link between fast, throwaway fashion and the mountains of clothes that end up in landfill. Sustainability experts WRAP say we’re talking an estimated £140 million-worth of clothing each year.  Considering how many clothes contain plastic, you’ve got to think about how long that waste will take to decompose… Anything from 20 – to 200 years for a polyester shirt, apparently. 
But before you hide your head in your wardrobe, there are some positive developments. With the world waking up to fashion’s impact, more sustainable approaches are being explored, like the potential of fibre-to-fibre recycling and increased use of sustainable cotton.  The team at Oxfam’s textile recycling facility, Wastesaver, are working with experts at the forefront of textile innovations to explore fibre-to-fibre recycling and other ways we can make better use of the fabric from unsaleable clothing. As for microplastics, Professor Richard Thompson – leading expert in the field – believes more could be done at the design stage to reduce this, too, as different man-made textiles shed different amounts of plastic. 
Until the fashion industry changes, there’s plenty we can do as well. Because of the many issues involved – not just microfibres, landfill and CO2, but also things like water and land use – it’s not as simple as ditching synthetics and dressing top-to-toe in cotton and wool. But we can start by keeping and wearing our clothes for longer, whatever they’re made of. We can care for them in a way that lessens their eco impact.
And we can cut demand for new clothes and fight landfill, by buying second-hand . We reckon that’s a good place to start.
On my first trip I bought a paisley ‘90s dress. Next it was an oversized shirt, then a black shoulder bag with cherries on. Before I knew it, I had a wardrobe full of Oxfam. Years on and not much has changed!
As well as being creative and fun, another thing I love about charity shopping is that it means you can be a bit more eco. 38 million new items of clothing are bought each week in the UK and 11 million items end up in landfill. By shopping second-hand we can reduce waste and stop incredible clothes, which took time, craftmanship and resources to make, going to landfill unnecessarily.
Another thing I love about charity shopping is that it means you can be a bit more eco
So, without further ado, I thought I’d share my best tips for making second-hand shopping a breeze. And here they are…
Tip 1: Visit often
The nature of charity shops, you never know when someone your size, with a great wardrobe, has dropped off a whole load of loveliness. The more you visit, the more likely you are to find things. By going fairly often (read: a lot!)
I’ve found an embellished top for New Year’s Eve, a black midi dress convenient for every single day of my life, and a glitterball of a jumper that dresses up even the most casual outfits. The term ‘right place, right time’ was invented for charity shopping, I’m sure!
Tip 2: Don’t forget the accessories
I should listen to my own advice here. I’m first to the rail of dresses in all charity shops. It’s like I’m on a mission – and that mission is to rummage through Every Single Dress. Before I know it, it’s time to leave and I walk straight out past the basket FULL of bargain belts.
When I’ve had my eye on the ball I’ve found amazing belts, necklaces and bags over the years that are a fraction of their original price. Charity shop bargains at their absolute best.
Tip 3: Try a little DIY…
Sometimes, charity shopping can be daunting in that it’s unlikely you’re going to find exactly what you’re after.
However, that doesn’t stop you buying something similar and adapting it a little. Hems can be taken up and waistbands can be taken in.
One of my most-worn Oxfam dresses was a denim button front dress which was originally so long that I would have had a denim train had I left it. After cutting the hem off to suit me better, it’s still the dress I go to for a little effortless, comfortable dressing.
Tip 4: Be open-minded
Another thing I’m a repeat offender of. Someone will tell me they picked something up from Oxfam. Next time I’m in there, I will be scouting out for that particular item. Chances are, it won’t be there!
By looking for specific items, you can miss things that, with a little thought, can be slotted into your wardrobe perfectly.
By trying on a few pieces you wouldn’t normally go for, and thinking up a few outfits to incorporate them into, you can find new favourites you could’ve missed.
Trying on a few pieces you wouldn’t normally go for – you can find new favourites
Tip 5: Go with a friend
This tip goes with Tip 4. I find that by shopping with a friend, I am more open to trying things I wouldn’t have tried had I been mooching around by myself. By discussing items I’m unsure of, my friends can often provide outfit combinations I wouldn’t have thought of, or prompt me to try on clothes I may have dismissed. It’s usually these things I end up loving that little bit more.
And that’s it. Five charity shopping tricks I always use to ensure I don’t miss any second-hand bargains. I wish you good luck as you scour the shops for those hidden gems!
Enjoyed Hannah’s top tips? Put them into practice – head to your local Oxfam or shop online!
Our planet is in serious trouble and our nation’s addiction to new clothes is doing more harm than you may think
It’s estimated that more than two tonnes of clothing are bought each minute in the UK, more than any other country in Europe.
That amount produces nearly 50 tonnes of carbon emissions – the same as driving 162,000 miles in a car.
Buying just one white cotton shirt produces the same amount of emissions as driving 35 miles in a car.
New research by Oxfam shows just how polluting the UK’s consumption of new clothes really is. In one month alone, the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK was greater than flying a plane around the world 900 times. This is the same amount of carbon emissions the nation could save if we all took part in Second Hand September.
Earlier this year, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg stood up in front of world leaders at Davos to deliver a chilling wake up call. “We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people.”
Greta sparked a wake-up call across the globe demanding drastic change to save our planet and in turn, ourselves. We’re all feeling the effects of the climate emergency, but it is not affecting us all equally.
The world’s poorest people have contributed the least to the climate crisis, yet are suffering the full force of its impacts – increased flooding, droughts and storms destroying lives, homes, jobs, livestock and crops.
When Greta said, “our house is on fire” she wasn’t wrong. We are seeing unprecedented wild fires spreading across the Amazon rainforest, the lungs of our planet, producing 20% of the world’s oxygen. Greenland’s ice sheet is melting so fast it has caused global sea levels to rise 0.5mm in just one month.
Farmers like Hudan in Ethiopia are having to adapt in a drastically warming world to months without rainfall. Our planet is in serious trouble.
But things could be different. As Greta pointed out “The main solution is so simple that even a small child can understand. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.”
Obvious actions stand out – flying less, driving less, taking more public transport. But how about buying fewer new clothes? With the global textile industry producing more greenhouse gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined – it could be a more important change than we think.
Help raise awareness of how damaging our shopping habits can be by sharing these graphics on your social channels.
Click to Share on Facebook
Click to Share on Facebook
Click to Share on Facebook
Click to Share on Facebook
Greta Thunbergs (SWE) at the Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 25, 2019. Congress Cenre. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Valeriano Di Domenico
Reuse, reuse, reuse. And when you can’t reuse – recycle with Oxfam
In the UK, 11 million items of clothing go to landfill every week. It’s an alarming trend that’s harming our planet. But we can all do a little bit to help.
If we all donate our unwanted clothes to charity, instead of chucking them in the bin, we’d save an estimated 300,000 tonnes of textiles from going to landfill every year. And just think of the money that those items could raise for great causes.
When you donate clothes to Oxfam, they could go a lot further than your local Oxfam shop. We’ve been recycling clothes since 1974 when Wastesaver – our textiles recycling centre – first opened its doors. It’s the only one of its kind. And where your clothes could go to continue their journey if they don’t sell. Our team of second hand experts are on hand, ready to sort through your donations to decide on the best possible place for them to go.
Items that stand out, like a sparkly jumpsuit or denim jacket, could end up in one of our festival shops or in Oxfam’s online shop.
And as for your jeans, t-shirts or any items that are too worn out to be rehomed, they might be sold to be turned into industrial cleaning cloth, mattress filling or carpet underlay. All raising money to help beat poverty.
Your old bras and summer clothing could be sent on to Frip Ethique – an Oxfam-run social enterprise in Senegal. Most of the workers are women, who sort and sell clothes donated to Oxfam to local market traders. It’s a great way for them to earn a living which means they can afford healthcare and send their children to school.
We’ve also got a team of super crafty volunteers, who handpick items to upcycle before they’re sold. They’ve been known to transform doilies into bunting, blankets into bags and pom poms into jackets.
Wherever your clothes end up, we’re proud to say it certainly won’t be in landfill.
So if you’re about to have an end of summer sort-out – help people and planet by bagging up what you can’t reuse and pop it down to your local Oxfam shop.
Want to inspire others to say no to new too? Here are four simple ways to do just that
By pledging to take part in Second Hand September, you’ve taken a stand to make fashion more people and planet-friendly. Here are four ways to get your friends and family involved too – and make an even bigger difference in the process.
1. Spread the word about fashion’s impact
Right now, a lot of people have no idea about the planet-wrecking effects of throwaway fashion. Chances are if they did, they’d probably want to do something about it… Did you know that the UK sends 11 million items of clothing to landfill – EVERY week? You’ll find more facts to share in this blog.
2. Show off your finds
Sometimes, a little inspiration is all it takes. So show people how great second hand fashion can look – share your best buys with #SecondHandSeptember.
You might even win a prize – we’ll be picking our favourite second hand look once a week, throughout September.
If you’re after inspiration yourself, you’ll find more great outfits @oxfamonlinebatley run by the team at Wastesaver, our huge recycling and sorting centre in Batley.
3. Throw a mega-swap
You don’t always have to buy second hand to do Second Hand September. Just get friends and family together to swap unwanted clothes instead. The more the merrier and the better the choice. If any items don’t find a new home you can help fight poverty – and landfill – by donating them to your nearest Oxfam shop instead.
4. Skill-up with a friend
Hankering after a new look? Try raiding your own wardrobe. Chances are there is at least one item that’s ripe for upcycling. Visit Love Your Clothes for how-to guides, then get a friend or two over for an afternoon of creative fashion fun.
You’ll be able to share ideas – and inspire each other to learn some new skills. Created something great? Share it online #SecondHandSeptember
Photos: www.shutterstock.com | Credit point 2 (L-R) @Mary.Mandefield, @lauracollins95, @oxfamonlinebatley