'Secondhand Sunday' Encourages People to Give Used Gifts

Poshmark's new campaign redirects holiday shoppers away from mass consumption of new goods toward more ethical and sustainable choices.

woman takes picture of her shirt, hanging on closet door

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You've heard of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday—all major shopping days that take place at the end of the November. But now there's another day you can add to the list, and it's one that gets a big thumbs up from Treehugger. The first annual Secondhand Sunday will roll out this year. It is the brainchild of Poshmark, a social commerce marketplace that enables users to buy and sell clothing online, mostly used.

Secondhand Sunday, which takes place on November 27 this year (and will always be on the Sunday following U.S. Thanksgiving), comes at an especially good time. The organizers point to the convergence of two key trends: first, ongoing inflation is prompting customers to look for deals and ways to save money; and second, people are increasingly open to receiving secondhand gifts.

Poshmark commissioned global research firm Morning Consult to assess the secondhand market. It found that over 90% of American adults say they would be willing to receive a secondhand or resold gift this season, but only 34% are likely to buy them for others. This suggests "massive opportunity to close the gap"—a task that Poshmark has embraced with enthusiasm.

Amber McCasland, vice-president of Global Brand and Communications, told Treehugger that consumers have become familiar with dedicated shoppings days in the calendar.

"Our team saw an opportunity to hack traditional holiday shopping patterns by shining a spotlight on the many benefits of secondhand shopping and selling ... Secondhand Sunday aims to redirect holiday shopping away from mass consumption of new goods toward choices that support individual economic empowerment, social connection and environmental sustainability. Secondhand Sunday encourages shoppers to think about who they're buying from, and support secondhand sellers during the peak holiday shopping season."

Poshmark is a platform from which individual sellers run their own "closets" or shops, similar to Etsy, and make extra cash. Some do it part-time, others full-time. While sellers have varying motivations for doing business, many are driven by the belief that buying secondhand is important for the environment. 

One such seller is Ashley Wheeler from Oregon. When she started selling on Poshmark, her husband worked as a truck driver at a landfill site. They were both horrified at the amount of textile waste that was getting dumped, just because it was deemed unsellable by a retailer. Even when her husband asked to bring home items that still had value, he was told no, because "companies had paid the landfill to dispose of their garbage." She told Treehugger:

"For us, that was a wake up-call. We realized it wasn't just about us bringing our pre-owned clothing back into the market but finding other inventory that companies were ready to dispose of and help recycle it back into use. That's when we started to learn about Goodwill Outlets (aka the bins) and other similar stores—where we source a majority of our inventory."

Wheeler now buys cast-off items by the pound from Goodwill's "last chance" bins and resells them on Poshmark. She said it's possible to find designer and high-end fashion brands, and that often items are still in great or new condition.

When asked what she looks for, Wheeler said, "We focus on brands and fabric materials when we are sourcing items. We prefer natural materials like linen, silk, hemp, organic cotton, etc. We also look at functionality: work boots, jeans, sweaters, puffer coats, windbreakers ... Functionality typically lasts longer in someone's closet and they are more likely to pick up over trends, from our experience."

While Poshmark has run smaller, more targeted holiday campaigns in the past, McCasland said that Secondhand Sunday is "our first concerted effort to change the cultural conversation around how people shop and gift during the holidays." The hope is that, instead of running out to buy new items as gifts, people will realize that it's acceptable and even preferable to source used items instead. And they may discover Poshmark for the first time—an easily accessible website and app that allows you to search for specific styles, sizes, and brands.

Manish Chandra, company founder and CEO, said in a press release, "We want to promote and celebrate the idea that our sellers' virtual closets are the new must-see holiday storefronts, and invite consumers across the nation to choose secondhand, on Secondhand Sunday and all year long."

Whether you visit a local thrift store or go online to Poshmark, there's a world of used clothing out there that's just waiting to be worn. To choose that over new is a small yet meaningful act of environmental preservation. It says no to more production, more resource extraction, more exploitative labor practices in distant countries. It extends the lifespan of already created garments, reduces the number of clothes being discarded, and cuts down on the methane emitted when textiles break down in landfill.

So, really, you can't go wrong. Secondhand Sunday is a great idea that gets people off conventional shopping websites and out of malls while promoting circular fashion, waste reduction, and financial savings. Poshmark encourages people to participate and spread the word by using the #SecondhandSunday hashtag on social media.