During the month of September, Oxfam is encouraging everyone to take up the challenge of not buying new clothes, for 30 days or longer. Their website has some eye-watering facts about the environmental impact of fast fashion - did you know, for example, that 13 million items of clothing are sent to landfill in the UK every week? Shopping second hand is a great way to help reduce the problem - with the added bonuses being it’s usually cheaper than buying new and, as we hope to demonstrate below, more fun! Here are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of second hand fashion, whether you’re revamping your wardrobe or looking for the least wasteful ways to deal with your discards.
If you’re not quite ready to venture out to the shops just yet, you can make the transition to second-hand online instead. Starting right here: we have a thriving local marketplace hosted digitally on our sales pages, covering everything from clothing and accessories to furniture and cars. If you’re having a clearout, this is a great way to ensure your stuff goes to a good home, especially as it’s free to advertise! If you’re arranging delivery to Oxford, you could make it even more eco-friendly by choosing Pedal and Post as your courier.
On the charitable side, Oxfam’s own online shop has a good range of women’s, men’s and children’s wear, with free returns and all profits funding their international work fighting poverty. Similarly, local hospice Helen and Douglas House now have their very own Ebay store so you can support them while you bid.
A brand new local initiative, the Oxford Virtual Charity Shop, has recently been launched, in response to some charity shops becoming overwhelmed by post-lockdown-clearout donations. Join the Facebook group to browse or list: donations go to the World Land Trust, who prevent rainforest destruction by buying land in critical areas, saving endangered species. Similarly, Oxford University Friends of Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) are hosting an online clothes sale in October. It’s not just for students: all are welcome to drop off donations at Exeter College on certain days.
Oxfordshire has no shortage of outdoor car boot sales, which are another great place to hunt for bargains. The Kassam Stadium’s weekly car boot has plenty of space for social distancing while you rummage, and lots of potential for haggling. There are also regular vintage vendors at Oxford Outdoor Market on Gloucester Green. One potential date for your diary is the Oxfordshire Reuses Zero Waste Festival, which usually happens at the Town Hall each May (fingers crossed for 2021!) - as well as seminars on reducing waste, there is a popular free swap shop that one of our team members did particularly well out of…
Making more of it
If you’ve got time to spare while self-isolating, you could use it to develop your waste-reducing skills, for example by trying one of Oxfam’s online upcycling tutorials - and if you really get a taste for it, you could sign up to a course from Oxford Sewing Lessons, to become an expert and mending and making. Not only can being unfazed by holes help you keep your existing clothes for longer, but being able to fix garments also opens you up to being able to buy second hand garments that are slightly worse for wear (often sold ‘as seen’) - a win-win!
You can up your customizing game by sourcing your yarns, beads and buttons from Orinoco Scrapstore once their new premises open.
If you’re not able to mend something yourself, try Share Oxford - at their Repair Cafes they have volunteers who can fix clothes for a small donation.
Daily Info’s Show and Tell
Many of our team are avid bargain hunters, so we couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off our favourite charity shop finds! So, without further ado…
Susie (Director) wears: cloche hat from Barnardo’s, 2020; linen jacket from Oxfam, 2012; wedding shoes, Ebay; earrings, model’s own.
Jen (Director) wears: denim dungarees from one of the Cowley Rd charity shops; silk shirt from Oxfam Superstore.
Anna (Communications) wears: Oasis top from Age UK, Bicester; Closet London skirt, Clarks ballet pumps, ornamental fan (£10!), all from British Heart Foundation, St Ebbes St; tights, model’s own.
Anna’s top tip: "Bicester may be famous for the designer outlet village, but the town’s charity shops are the real shopping destination, because they’re where the fashionable residents send their cast-offs!"
Ted (Pirate Cat) wears: World Book Day costume, made by Jen using clothes from Oxfam Superstore.
Want to share your best bargains too? Email your photo and short description to [email protected] and we’ll display them here!