Posted on: September 21, 2020 Posted by: Zara Canfield Comments: 0

Did you know that that the average lifespan for an item of clothing is 3.3 years? And, consumers send a whopping 336,000 tonnes of used clothing to landfill every year in the UK! Well I didn’t until I got involved in Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign.


So what is #SecondHandSeptember?

Photo credit: Oxfam GB

Oxfam launched Second Hand September in 2019, revealing in research that the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK every minute is greater than driving a car around the world six times! Second Hand September is back for a second year and once again, Oxfam are asking people to shop second hand throughout September, to help protect people and planet from the impacts of fast fashion. Every week 13 million items of clothing ends up in UK landfill, so choosing to shop second hand can make a difference.

Oxfam has been doing the reusing and reselling thing since the 1940s, when the first Oxfam Shop opened. Then years later in 1974, Oxfam became the first national charity to develop its own facility for recycling and reusing clothes that never sends clothes to landfill.

Oxfam’s pioneering sorting facility, is called Wastesaver. Oxfam’s team at Wastesaver works hard to resell, reuse or recycle donated items – ensuring clothes continue their journey. Over 14,000 tonnes of clothing are diverted from landfill through being donated to Oxfam every year. Check out this video of my colleague Ben from the Oxfam Festival Shop Team, talk through what we do at Wastesaver. 

Photo credit: Tom Craig

Michaela Coel the BAFTA award-winning actor, director, screenwriter, producer, playwright and poet is joining us to champion this year’s campaign. Coel will feature in the windows of more than 500 Oxfam shops nationwide, showcasing clothing from Oxfam, and the clothes that she is sporting will be available to buy from Oxfam’s pop-up shop in Selfridges London until 4th October.

The full collection was sourced from our Oxfam Festival Shop at Wastesaver and was curated by Oxfam’s Senior Independent Fashion Advisor, Bay Garnett. I visited the shop on the first day to check it out and it was truly fantastic! There is a wide variety of items from high end designer to vintage band t-shirts, with all the proceeds going towards Oxfam’s mission to beat poverty around the world.

By joining Second Hand September, you’ll give clothes a longer life by keeping them from landfill. And by shopping with Oxfam, you’ll be reinvesting your money into helping the poorest people on the planet earn a fair living and beat poverty. This campaign is all about inspiring and educating people to change the way they shop, whilst providing a challenge to take part in with family and friends.

My experience living second hand

I have loved second hand clothing since I was a child. From hand-me downs from family or friends, to weekend outings to the charity shops with my Nan. Its these habits as a child that has always made me a big fan of bargains and thrifting. But I also got sucked into the world of fast fashion, trying to follow the never-ending trends and sales.

Photo credit: Zara Canfield

Its now been 14 months without buying new clothes and I have loved every minute of it! Yes, there have been times when I have wanted/needed something, and it would have been much easier to just buy it new, but I didn’t. Once you get into the swing of things and don’t see it as cutting yourself off from fashion but see all the positives its easy and so rewarding!

See some of my favourite second hand outfits below.

Photo credit: Olly Ross

Mickey Mouse jacket: bought at the Leeds Festival, Oxfam Festival Shop for £10!
Colourful striped top: Boohoo brand new with tags for £3 from my local Oxfam Shop
Black Stradivarius jeans: purchased brand new from eBay for £8.

Trainers: these are currently going for upwards of £75 (I’ve seen them on eBay for as much as £500!) but I was super lucky and snapped them up on eBay for £20 and not a single scuff on them!

Photo credit: Olly Ross

Sunglasses: £3 Oxfam Superstore

Dress: £3.99 Zara dress from eBay which was brand new with tags on! I wear it so much with shorts or leggings that I found it brought it in 2 other colours (also second-hand).

How you can join me on this journey…

Unfollow and unsubscribe:

One of the first things I did at the start of my journey was to remove any temptation by unsubscribing from clothes retailers. I also started the process of unfollowing influencers who promote fast fashion hauls and instead replaced them with sustainable fashion accounts including @OxfamGb @Oxfamfestshop @LaurenBravo and @theniftythrifter_

Declutter and get to know your wardrobe

This can be a long but a very worthwhile process – you won’t regret it! I owned so much that I had forgotten what I had in my wardrobes (yes plural).

So I decided to Marie Kondo my life! I managed to do my own fashion stock check and designate items to be donated, swapped and sold on. After doing this I also recommend bringing items to the front that have been hidden and forgotten about.

Don’t be afraid to be an outfit repeater! If you love something why not wear it more often.

Sell, Give, Swap!

Going without fast fashion does not mean going without!

When your clothes have finished their life in your wardrobe – give them a new lease of life. This can be done in several ways including donating them to an Oxfam shop, so you can help raise money to fight poverty around the world. Just one dress could raise enough money to buy drought-resistant seeds for a family to keep growing food despite a changing climate- amazing right?!

Depending on the time you have and how many items you no longer want to keep, there are a few ways you can make some money back. I usually sell items when I have a little more time on my hands, or I am saving up for something. You can also sell items and give the money you make to charity too!

 Photo credit: Rosalia Mendes

Need a wardrobe refresher?

Why not organise a clothes swap with a group of close friends, colleagues at work or in your community? Sadly, with social distancing guidelines, this will be difficult to do on a large scale. So recently I have taken photos of items and sent them in a group chat with friends. They can then request any items they would like and I then donate the rest to my local Oxfam shop.

Need some retail therapy?

By choosing to shop second hand you can save great clothes from needlessly ending up in landfill.

You can also refresh your wardrobe at a fraction of the price by buying clothes and accessories from high street charity shops or online on the Oxfam Online Shop, eBay, Depop and Vinted. I have bought some amazing pieces over the last year with many being brand new and unworn by the previous owner #winning!

Want to keep up with the latest trend?

Why not ‘window shop and search’? This is the term I have given for when I may have seen an item I really like that a friend or maybe a celebrity/influencer has worn or possibly something I have seen when walking past a shop window. I will then try to find it second hand! It’s not easy and not always successful but it makes my shopping experience a lot more enjoyable and cheaper!


Inspire and educate yourself

Photo credit: Sam Baggette / Oxfam

Second Hand September started last summer and this was the main catalyst for changing my shopping habits. (I am pictured above on the far left).

I instantly fell in love with the campaign and last summer I was so inspired by the conversations I was having with people whist campaigning at festivals that I decided not buy new clothes for a whole year!

Over the last year I have continued to educate myself more on the damaging effects of fast fashion and how I can have a more sustainable lifestyle.

Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign is a great way to educate yourself and by inspired by the thousands of other people who are also taking part! I have listed a few resources that have helped me over the last year that I hope you find useful…


The True Cost (a hard to watch film but I highly recommend), Stacey Dooley Investigates Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, and Machines by Rahul Jain.

Accounts to follow:

@OxfamGb @LaurenBravo@theniftythrifter_@Knickersmodelsown, @consciousnchic@venetialamanna @hannahxelliman @fash_rev @emsladedmondson @ajabarber.


‘How To Break Up With Fast Fashion’ by Lauren Bravo, Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes by Dana Thomas, and A Year of Frugal Fashion by Caroline Jones.


Good On You, this app was one of my favourite discoveries and is a great way to know more about the brands we buy from and choose to support.

GET INVOLVED in Second Hand September

It is not too late to get involved. Now is your chance to take part and change the way you shop for the next 30 days or more. You could even set you own challenge too! It is all about training ourselves out of old habits and start by making those new small lifestyle changes! Be a trend setter in your friendship group and be a sustainable fashion hero.

Make sure you let Oxfam know you are getting involved by sharing your pledge using #SecondHandSeptember and tagging @OxfamGB. Take the pledge here.

Remember to share the great items you find too! I can’t wait to see your outfits.

Let’s change the world with our wardrobes.

Have fun and good luck!

By Zara Canfield

Zara Canfield
Author: Zara Canfield

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