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Oxfam launches Second Hand September with new research on environmental benefits of preloved fashion

Melanie May | 30 August 2023 | News

Oxfam shop window with Second Hand September posters in the window

If all UK adults bought half of their next wardrobe second hand, it would prevent emissions equivalent to a plane flying around the world more than 17,000 times, or 261,000 flights from London (Heathrow) to Greece (Athens), according to new research from Oxfam.

The findings launch this year’s Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign, which encourages people to shop preloved and donate what they no longer need or wear for 30 days. The campaign first ran in 2019.

According to WRAP the average adult wardrobe consists of 118 items, and Oxfam’s research shows if half of those items had been bought second-hand, billions of harmful emissions created by manufacturing new clothes would have been prevented. Currently, only 10 per cent of wardrobe contents are second-hand.

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Further findings from Oxfam show that if each adult in the UK donated all the clothes that they have not worn in the past year to charity shops, it could remove the need for 4.9 billion kg carbon entering the atmosphere. That is equivalent to a plane flying around the world more than 6,600 times, or 100,000 flights from London (Heathrow) to Greece (Athens).

Lorna Fallon, Oxfam’s Retail Director, said:

“Choosing second-hand offers people a way to take action, to reshape the fashion industry, and reimagine the impact our clothes have on the world. As a major emitter of greenhouse gas, much of the fashion industry as it stands is a threat to people and planet. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In 2022, UK consumers bought 32% more second-hand clothes than in 2018, before the first Second Hand September campaign. Shopping this way sends a clear message to the fashion industry that consumers want, and expect, things to change.”

The campaign is backed by Oxfam Second Hand Clothes Ambassador Miquita Oliver.

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