Discover how you can reduce textile waste for Second Hand September

Second Hand September is an annual campaign organised by Oxfam encouraging people to shop preloved and donate the clothes they no longer need or wear for 30 days.  

To mark Second Hand September, we’ve highlighted the benefits of shopping second-hand as well as other actions you can take at home and in your community.  

Why we should shop second hand 

It saves money, of course! In 2022, the average UK household spent £1,308 annually on clothing. Shopping second hand can free up money for other expenses.  

In UK homes, about a third of garments are unworn. This amounts to over £1,000 per household and £30 billion in total. By donating clothes to charity, you can help organisations capture and redirect some of that value to their respective causes while helping members of your community save money. 

Shopping second hand is great for the environment too. Globally, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry after the oil and gas sector. When a pair of jeans is made, an estimated 16.2kg of carbon dioxide is emitted, while it takes 2,700 litres of fresh water to make a single cotton t-shirt – enough to meet one person’s drinking needs for 2.5 years.  

This means that reducing the industry’s environmental footprint is an important part of the solution to climate change and biodiversity loss.  

Research by Oxfam estimates that if all adults in the UK bought half of their next wardrobe second hand, it would prevent emissions equivalent to a plane flying around the world more than 17,000 times.  

Buy or repair 

Brighton & Hove is a popular shopping destination thanks to its wide range of vintage and second-hand clothes shops. Explore local sustainable clothes shops and charity shops using Circular Brighton & Hove’s map of local initiatives.  

You can also cut back on buying new with creative alterations or basic repairs. If you’re hopeless with a needle, you’re not alone. Almost 6 in 10 people in the UK admit that they are unable to sew much or at all. 

Organisations such as the Fashion School, Sew Fabulous and ONCA host regular sewing classes and drop-in sessions for everyone from absolute beginners to more experienced sewers.  

Donate or recycle clothes  

Unwanted clothes, shoes and textiles can be donated to charity shops across the city or at one of our many textile recycling points.  

The service is run at no cost to taxpayers, with 40% of profits going to community grants which local groups and charities can apply for. The other 60% is reinvested into some of the other 700 services we run daily. 

Sustainable Fashion Week 

You can celebrate sustainable style at Brighton’s very first Sustainable Fashion Week from 25 September, finishing with a two-day showcase at the Brighton Dome on Saturday 30 September and Sunday 1 October.  

The theme for 2023 is ‘The ReWear Revolution’, inviting everyone to consider how they can buy less and wear more. Guests can shop at a sustainable fashion marketplace, exchange unwanted items at a clothes swap, learn repair skills, hear from industry experts, and more.  

Buy tickets to Brighton’s first Sustainable Fashion Week

Smarter Uniforms  

Last week, over 450 items of free school uniform were given to parents and carers at a 4-day pop up event at Whitehawk Library.  

Since April, Smarter Uniforms has distributed over 1,300 items of second hand school uniform. This includes selling nearly 200 items on the newly launched Smarter Uniforms online marketplace.  

Smarter Uniforms has also worked with community organisations to set up 5 community wardrobes and rails across the city to ensure parents and carers can easily access free uniform items.  

Sustainable consumption habits 

Councillor Tim Rowkins, Chair of the City Environment, South Downs and The Sea Committee, said: “The textile industry is the second most polluting industry and is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions globally.  

“However, we can all reduce our own carbon footprints by shifting to more sustainable consumption habits such as shopping second hand.   

“Keeping clothes and other textiles in use for longer supports a circular economy by reducing waste, prolonging the life of products and materials, and protecting natural resources.” 

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