Ever heard of Secondhand September? What it is, how it works, and how you can get involved

Join Felicity Jones to fight throwaway fashion - for good.

Felicity Jones stars as the face of Secondhand September

Join Felicity Jones to fight throwaway fashion - for good.

You'll likely have heard of Secondhand September, but do you know what the month-long initiative from Oxfam, this year fronted by actress Felicity Jones, actually entails or why it's so important that you get involved if you can?

All good questions. It's a campaign from the charity to encourage others to shop secondhand for an entire month. That is, only buy vintage clothes or pre-loved items for the entire thirty days of September.

Why's it so important? Well, in short, because we're facing a climate crisis and fast fashion is one of the major culprits. Clothes being produced in high volume and sold at a low cost has a huge carbon footprint and harms both people and planet. Fast fashion alone is thought to produce as much as 92 million tonnes of waste every year.

That's where Oxfam comes in with their secondhand initiative. "By shopping secondhand with Oxfam or donating to Oxfam shops, you’re investing your money in vital work beating poverty around the world," explains Harriet Hernando, PR officer at Oxfam.

"You’re also supporting people to speak out and stand up to the climate crisis and helping create a better fairer and greener future for everyone," she continues.

Keep scrolling for an expert-led guide to Secondhand September, what it is and how to get involved - oh, and don't miss our guides to the best charity shops, best dress rental sites and best online vintage clothes stores, while you're here.

What is Secondhand September?

According to Hernando, Secondhand September is, simply put, Oxfam’s campaign to celebrate shopping pre-loved.

"It's also to raise awareness about the harmful effects of fast fashion on our planet and the people who make our clothes," she explains. "Oxfam wants to encourage people to think twice about their shopping habits, so we’re asking the public to only buy second hand for the month of September and to donate their pre-loved items to Oxfam."

A photo posted by on

When did Secondhand September begin? 

A bit of history for you - the Secondhand September campaign is now in its fourth year, with more than 50,000 people sharing the #SecondHandSeptember hashtag on social media last year.

"The Oxfam Online Shop saw more than 8,000 new shoppers and an uplift in sales of 46%," explains Hernando. "People really embraced the campaign to wear second-hand and, in doing so, raised funds for Oxfam’s work beating poverty around the world."

See - sustainable living never looked so simple.

How can I get involved? 

It's simple - anyone can get involved by following the three steps below:

1. Donate

Got some old clothes lying around that just don't fit you anymore or may look better on someone else? Take them to your local Oxfam to do your bit.

You can find your nearest Oxfam shop using the online shop finder tool on the Oxfam website.

2. Shop

Not got any clothes to donate but keen to invest in some pre-loved fashion? You can also shop from the comfort of your home on the Oxfam online shop, explains Hernando.

3. Social

If you do manage to grab a secondhand bargain, don’t forget to share your one-of-a-kind find using the #SecondHandSeptember hashtag and tagging @OxfamGB.

That way, you help raise awareness of shopping more sustainably this September and in months to come, too.

Secondhand September: a 2021 poster

4 top tips for embracing Secondhand September: 

1. Look online

Most people don't realise Oxfam has a whole secondhand site online, so if you're shopping for something specific, try their site first.

"You can filter to find a particular brand, style, colour to find what you’re looking for," explains Hernando.

2. Repair, repair, repair

Instead of throwing damaged clothes away, why not try and fix them?

"Missing buttons can be replaced and holes can be mended to get the most out of your clothes for longer," the expert advises.

3. Try upcycling

Ever considered upcycling clothes and refashioning them into something you need or love? "A cashmere jumper could become a cashmere beanie in no time," explains Hernando.

4. Organise your wardrobes seasonally 

This one's simple but seriously effective. "At the end of each season, try putting your clothes away in storage boxes and getting them out again the following year," advises the expert. "You’ll be surprised how those clothes start to feel ‘new’ again after a little separation."

Ally Head
Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.