activism · minimalism

Getting ready for #secondhandseptember

One of the advantages of being online is having an endless source of ideas to keep things interesting when it comes to sustainability. Being environmentally friendly and making conscious consumer choices can get hard, given all the additional work that has to go into even the simplest tasks.

Doing challenges and focusing on specific areas for shorter periods of time makes it more manageable, and more fun. Doing a NoSpendYear is extremely challenging, and almost nine months in, I can tell you I stumbled numerous times. A year is such a long time to stay on course…

That’s why month-long challenges are so appealing. It’s long enough to actually be a challenge, but short enough for the enthusiasm not to wane too much and for my brain not to get too distracted.

What is #secondhandseptember?

An online action started by the British charity Oxfam focuses on lowering our carbon footprint when it comes to fashion. It puts a spotlight on overproduction and the environmental impact of all the discarded clothing going to the landfills.

The following statistics, published by the UNEP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, give us an idea: 

  • Every year the fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water — enough to meet the consumption needs of five million people.
  • Around 20 % of wastewater worldwide comes from fabric dyeing and treatment.
  • Of the total fiber input used for clothing, 87 % is incinerated or disposed of in a landfill.
  • The fashion industry is responsible for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. At this pace, the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions will surge more than 50 % by 2030.
  • If demographic and lifestyle patterns continue as they are now, global consumption of apparel will rise from 62 million metric tons in 2019 to 102 million tons in 10 years. 
  • Every year a half a million tons of plastic microfibers are dumped into the ocean, the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. The danger? Microfibers cannot be extracted from the water and they can spread throughout the food chain.

Extending the life of garments we already have and those that have already been produced could have an incredible impact on the environment.

The challenge for this September

The obvious part of the #secondhandseptember challenge is to only purchase second hand clothing during the month. Personally, I will try to extend that challenge to other areas of my life and try not buying anything new.

I don’t buy clothes all that often in the first place, especially after decluttering my closet at the beginning of the year. But I do buy other new items.

So to make it a challenge for myself, I will try to avoid purchasing anything new (with groceries being the obvious exception). And if I don’t manage to find what I need second hand, I will try to find an alternative so that I don’t make any purchase at all.

Wish me luck!

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