Secondhand September: Beyond Fashion

By Aislinn Redbond, posted 27/09/21

As Oxfam’s campaign, ‘Secondhand September’, draws to a close, we look at some other areas that can be shopped secondhand.

Our dedicated volunteer, Deirdre, sorting through some of the books we have been donated.

Every September, Oxfam launches its Secondhand September campaign, which challenges consumers not to buy any new clothing for the thirty days of the month. This campaign began as a means to raise awareness of the environmental impact of fast fashion. Throughout September, Oxfam encourages consumers to donate their unwanted clothing to the charity and to buy secondhand fashion from Oxfam (and other charity) shops. This campaign aligns closely with a lot of what we do here at Shrub Coop, as we promote sustainable, secondhand shopping through our very own swap shop and Depop. However, this Secondhand September, we want to highlight how we can find more than just clothing in the preloved market.

Overconsumption is one the biggest drivers of the climate crisis, which is why changing our consumption habits is one of the most effective ways to fight against the climate crisis. The sustainable fashion movement has grown hugely in recent years, with consumers becoming increasingly conscious of the environmental and ethical impacts of new clothing, however fashion is not the only damaging industry we need to transform. The production of any item involves the extraction of resources and the use of energy, therefore it is important to reduce the amount of new items being produced in the first place. This is where secondhand shopping - for books, for furniture, for anything really - steps in.

One of the easiest swaps to make from new to preloved is buying books secondhand. As students, one of the best ways to save money (and the planet!) is to purchase textbooks secondhand, either through older students or through secondhand booksellers (Blackwells buy and sell used textbooks, as one example). Shrub has a large range of fiction and non-fiction available in our shop, as well as having scoped out a number of online used booksellers in our previous post here. More and more frequently, household items such as cutlery, mugs and vases are being donated to charity shops and online recycling websites, and these items are a welcome addition to almost any home - once again, saving you money and saving the planet. A stroll into Shrub Coop will greet you with a large range of miscellaneous items, from plates to unicycles, showcasing the many different ways that you can engage in secondhand shopping.

Every item bought secondhand has a double advantage: it redirects waste from landfill, and it reduces the amount of materials and energy used to create new items. All sorts of gems can be found when shopping secondhand, and there is something particularly enthralling about giving a preloved item a new lease of life. So, as Secondhand September draws to a close, perhaps we can open ourselves to more ways of secondhand shopping all throughout the year. Doesn’t every item deserve a second (or third, or twentieth) chance?

SHRUB Coop is supported through a combination of grant funding and generous donations from our community. We’re grateful for all their support. Find out more about our grant funders by clicking on the logos above.