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What is Second Hand September? How to Take Part and Everything Else You Need to Know

Oxfam's annual campaign is back for the fourth year running.

Last Updated on September 8, 2022

You’ve probably heard people talking about Second Hand September on Instagram and wondered what it’s all about.

In short, it’s a 30-day challenge from Oxfam to only buy second hand items for the 30 days of September. Absolutely anyone can take part, and you might find yourself feeling so inspired that you carry the challenge out for longer.

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But why bother? Well, it’s common knowledge now that fashion is one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to climate change; research by McKinsey shows that the sector was responsible for 2.1 billion metric tones of greenhouse-gas emissions in 2018 – around 4 per cent of the global total and the same amount as the entire economies of Germany, France and the UK combined.

On top of the damage it causes, the industry also requires a huge quantity of water. In fact, up to 20,000 litres of water are needed to produce just 1kg of cotton.

Toxic waste containing lead, mercury and arsenic from textile factories are often dumped directly into rivers, directly impacting those who live nearby and the wildlife. It often makes its way into the sea and spreads around the world.

Then there’s the waste the industry produces. On average, a family in the western world throws away 30kg of clothing every year, while only 15% is recycled or donated. The remainder ends up in landfill or is incinerated.

It’s not hard to understand why we need to change our fashion habits, which is exactly what Second Hand September sets out to do.

So here’s exactly what it is and what you can do for the month of September to help the planet.

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What is #SecondHandSeptember?

Second Hand September is a yearly campaign by Oxfam that encourages people to only buy second hand clothes for 30 days. 2022 marks the charity’s fourth annual event.

Despite the challenge sounding difficult, there are now more places to shop second hand fashion than ever before. From Oxfam’s online store, to vintage retailers, it’s never been easier.

For more information about why you should take part, read Oxfam’s guide here.

Who started #SecondHandSeptember?

Oxfam started the challenge four years ago, and it’s now become an annual event we’re backing.

How to get involved

According to Oxfam, 13 million items of clothing go to landfill every week.

Help to reduce this colossal number by choosing to shop second hand only this month, donating your unwanted clothes to charity, recycling them or even swapping clothes with other sustainable shoppers online.

It also helps to follow influencers who focus on sustainable fashion and outfit repeating, rather than those who make you feel like you need to buy new all the time, such as Izzy Manuel and The Saints sisters.

You too can help raise awareness by using the hashtag #SecondHandSeptember if posting on InstagramTikTok and Twitter, and by tagging @OxfamGB when you do.

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