Secondhand September is Back! How Can You Participate?

Sep 16, 2023

As we inch closer and closer to Fall, many of you may be encouraged to update your wardrobe with new clothes to fit the new season. I’m in the same boat - the temperatures are dropping quickly in my town and I find myself scrambling to find clothes that I’ll be able to wear throughout Autumn. If you know us, you know we always try to see things through the sustainability lens, so let’s take pause and rethink how we’re going to shop for Autumn.

With September’s return, we also welcome back the annually celebrated Secondhand September. If you’ve never heard of Secondhand September, it’s a month-long practice (some might even say challenge) to only buy secondhand or thrifted items. Secondhand September is also a time to practice other sustainable habits like repairing items instead of throwing them out, sharing or swapping items with those closest to you, and of course, not buying anything at all!

One could argue that we should be buying secondhand items all year round, and I wholeheartedly agree with that, but if you’re new to buying used items, Secondhand September is a great way to start creating new shopping habits. 

So how can you participate in Secondhand September? I have a few ideas…

Re-create Your Wardrobe

Something I’ve been doing a lot lately, and loving, is taking the clothes I already have and giving them a makeover. This is especially fun if you know how to sew, but if you’re like me and never learned how to sew, you can still find ways to upgrade your items.

Your local tailor can become your new best friend - take those jeans that never quite fit you right to the tailor and come back with the perfect pair that you’ll wear for years to come. Maybe your favorite pair of pants has a rip or a few holes in it; your tailor can fix that too! Getting your clothes repaired is a relatively cheap way to keep wearing the items you thought had reached the end of their life, and can inspire you to create new looks with your refurbished item.

Buy Thrifted Clothes

I get it, sometimes you just need some fresh options in your closet. But, that doesn’t mean you have to buy clothes brand new - the thrift stores, both online and in-person, have everything you need. 

One of the best online thrift stores is Depop, which runs on a CTC model, allowing buyers and sellers to connect and communicate with each other. This community-based app has come in handy for me more times than I can count - need a Patagonia puffer jacket for that last-minute camping trip? Got a stain on the outfit you were going to wear to your sibling’s/friend’s/co-worker’s wedding? Depop can solve all of your problems.

If shopping in person is more your style, there are plenty of thrift stores that will carry all of your needs. There’s the classic Goodwill, but Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading provide a wide array of options as well. If you’re based in Europe, check out Humana’s various stores across the EU that are filled to the brim with unique vintage items. 

One of the best parts about shopping secondhand is you’re guaranteed to grab an item that no one else has, and soon enough, you’ll have a wardrobe that is 100% unique to you and irreplicable!

Support Secondhand Furniture and Decor

It’s not all about clothes here at The Underswell, how you decorate your home matters just as much as how you decorate yourself.

I can’t be the only one who has noticed the price of home goods skyrocketing, while the quality is going down. Unfortunately, many furniture items are not designed to last like they were in the old days. Thankfully, you don’t have to support this system - there are plenty of options to buy high-quality used home goods.

One of my favorite resources to find sustainable/secondhand home goods is The Good Trade, and this article from them has made my search for quality furniture so much easier. One of the standout features is Kaiyo, a pre-loved furniture retailer that allows customers to buy vintage pieces all from the comfort of their homes.

If you enjoy walking around and looking at furniture (🙋🏼‍♀️), consider going to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore for quality pieces at amazing prices, or, if you live in Southern California, visit the Long Beach or Rose Bowl Flea Markets. I’ve heard that both of these flea markets are two of the best in the state and have more vintage furniture options than you can imagine.

Do It Yourself (DIY)

For those of you who are really crafty, create your own unique items for Secondhand September!

If you know how to sew, grab yourself some fabric and your sewing machine and make your own clothes. A great organization that sells secondhand material is FabScrap, based in New York and Pennsylvania. Here, you can buy fabrics, trims, and even scraps for all of your design needs. Making your own clothes, specific to your measurements and personal style, creates an emotional bond, something some researchers believe leads consumers to hold onto clothing longer. 

For those that are handy, you may want to try building your own furniture. One of my dad’s favorite projects to work on is reclaimed barn wood furniture. We’re fortunate enough to have a reclaimed barn wood retailer in our town and they tend to be scattered all over the country - it may be worth doing a quick Google search of potential barn wood suppliers in your area. My favorite part of reclaimed barn wood projects is that each piece of wood is unique and has its own characteristics that stand out. Plus, it makes for a fun activity to chew up time on a lazy  Sunday afternoon! 

This non-exhaustive list is just the tip of the iceberg of ways you can participate in Secondhand September. Grab a buddy and share ideas on how you can reduce your impact this month!

We’re out to help people make sense of sustainability and we’d love to have you along for the ride. If you enjoyed this article, sign up for our weekly newsletter covering the latest sustainability news around the world. Don’t forget to grab your free copy of our 35 Sustainability Terms to Know guide below and if you have a topic you’d like us to cover, please send us an email at [email protected]

Take care!


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