It's Second-Hand September!

Oxfam's annual campaign wants to get everyone thrift shopping.

front of a thrift store

@AZ.BLT via Twenty20 

September is here, and do you know what that means? Time for Oxfam's annual month-long second-hand challenge! The British charity launched the initiative in 2019, so this is only its second year running. Second-Hand September is a smart, eco-friendly campaign that encourages people to buy thrifted items in place of new during a month of typically high consumerism and back-to-school shopping.

The events of 2020 may have changed your usual September routine, but many people are slowly starting to return to work and school, and clothing shops are reopening. Because so many people have been busy decluttering their closets during lockdown, thrift shops are overflowing with new donations, making it a great time to get back on the hunt for preloved treasures.

COVID-19 has forced many people to rethink their relationship with fashion and to question the frequency with which they bought new items in the past. As I wrote earlier this year in a post called "The Rise of the 'Divided Closet'," the pandemic has shown people that they can "make do with fewer purchases and make those last longer. Twenty-eight percent of people are recycling or reusing more clothes than normal."

This change puts thrift stores in a good position. They're seen as environmental saviors, prolonging the lifespan of items that would otherwise go to waste, and offering high-quality variety of clothing without driving demand for new resources. Whether it's in-store or online (with innovative platforms such as Goodfair, Poshmark, Grailed, and Vestiaire Collective that allow you to shop second-hand from home), the time has never been better to make thrift stores your go-to for a wardrobe update.

Oxfam (available for public download)

This year Oxfam asked two sustainable fashion stylists, Bel Jacobs and Alice Wilby, to share their tips on "finding second-hand gems." Their three-minute video has good advice in it, including wearing the other half of whatever outfit you're trying to buy for when you go to the thrift store. (Wish I'd thought of that before!) They recommend shopping with purpose and knowing what you're looking for; otherwise, a thrift store can be a vast and overwhelming place to navigate. Know your style, but be open to playing with that style. Stay away from trendy items unless it's something that genuinely looks good on you.

Also check out: How to Get Better at Thrift Shopping