Second Hand September: The Cost Of Fashion

Second Hand September is a new challenge, started in 2019 by the humanitarian charity, Oxfam. You might recognise the Oxfam name for their charity shops, which is how they fund so many of their projects around the globe. However, Oxfam found that 11 million garments end up in a landfill every single week. The Second Hand September project is pledged to reducing the impact of unsustainable fashion and unnecessary purchasing by encouraging people around the globe to switch high-street shops for second hand stores, or to just cut down on spending altogether.

Brits are buying more than ever before and are purchasing twice as much as 10 years ago. This increase in purchasing could be the allure of deals or the rise of ‘fast fashion’. Oxfam are promoting upcycling and buying second hand because it is better for the environment. Here at Wizzcash, we have discussed the benefits of upcycling and reducing your household carbon footprint, but also the positive impact it can have on your pocket. This guide will have a closer look at how much is actually spent on clothing and the benefits of saying yes to Second Hand September.

The Financial Cost Of Fashion

According to Oxfam, 2 tonnes of new clothing items are bought every single minute in the UK. Reports also suggest that Brits spend, on average, £1042 on new items of clothing every year, and that certain demographics were more likely to over spend on new clothing than others. For example, women are more likely to buy something new for an occasion than men.

This kind of purchasing could be extremely unsustainable, particularly, if purchases are being made for a ‘pick me up’ or for ‘retail therapy’. This kind of shopping can create negative or harmful spending habits that could push spenders into debt as buying a new item of clothing could become an unhealthy reaction to unhappiness. The relationship between debt, clothing and mental health is relatively unexplored, but it does seem likely there could be a dangerous cycle in which individuals comfort themselves with clothes, feel bad about their financial status and then resort to their retail pick-me-up. There is data to support this, as two out of three 18 to 24-year olds say they don’t feel as good when they are not wearing brand new clothes, interestingly these make up a part of the demographic that spends quite a lot on luxury goods and also rely on short term loans or temporary credit to see them through to their next paycheque. This could be why there is an anticipated £10 billion worth of unworn clothes in wardrobes across the UK.

The Effect Of ‘Buy Now Pay Later’

Although it’s not a new strategy, ‘buy now pay later’ schemes have become more available at high-street clothing retailers across the UK. The likes of New Look, ASOS and Topshop all offer Klarna pay. Klarna are a financer for retail outlets and who make it easier than ever before to purchase clothing we may not have the money for. Klarna’s checkout tag lines for these kinds of payment schemes promote the good feeling that comes when we treat ourselves to clothes, featuring phrases like “Payment can wait. Your new look can’t”.

The New York Times reports “Companies like Afterpay [a ‘buy now pay later’ lender] operate off the premise that the younger generations are more open to them because they came into adulthood under the cloud of the recession.” This suggest that those millennials who find comfort in their purchases could be more likely to find themselves in debt or subject to late fees because of their clothes spending. This could lead to consumers finding themselves in a financial emergency and reaching for a short term loan, as they are unable to pay their other bills or unable to cover unexpected or unplanned expenses when they crop up.

Second Hand September – What Could You Do To Save Money.

If Brits do spend £1042 on clothes and shoes every year, this works out at over £86 a month. Oxfam know that the cost of second hand or ‘pre-loved’ items are much cheaper and could significantly reduce a monthly spend without compromising on ‘new to your wardrobe’ items. Cutting out purchasing altogether is much more extreme, but many people set themselves the challenge of ‘no spend’ years to help save for house deposits, renovations or to help manage debt.

Extending the cost-per wear could have the potential to remedy the volume at which Brits buy and could help save money. For example, the average number of wears a dress gets in its lifetime is 26. This makes the cost per wear £1.51. You could save the money that would be spent on a new item (£20-50 in high street shops) and re-wear something from your wardrobe.

The Environmental Cost Of Fashion

Oxfam report that the emissions of new clothes being imported to the UK every month is greater than if you were to fly a plane around the world 900 times. In the UK, we are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of fast fashion, which is when consumers buy new clothes almost every season.  Reports show that fast fashion items are worn as little as 5 times and are kept for 35 days. These produce 400% more carbon emissions per year than items worn 50 times. Buying less could mean saving money, but also means a lower demand and a lesser impact on the environment.

The resources used to harvest the materials for clothes are also noticeably unsustainable. Manufacturers can use up to 20,000 litres of water to grow cotton for one pair of jeans. In turn, pesticides used to grow cotton accounts for 11% of global usage. Synthetic materials shed plastic microfibres that are putting the world’s wildlife and oceans at risk.

Other Environmental Considerations Of Shopping:

  • Plastic and unrecycled packaging – ordering online with an attitude of ‘try and buy’ means that tonnes of plastic wrapping is also sent to landfill every month.
  • Driving to the shops – unnecessary shopping trips means unnecessary fuel output or travel expenses.
  • The cost of a wash – check you are not over washing your items. This could be costing you money, utilising unnecessary energy and water, but also decreasing the lifetime of garments.

Consumers can check they are making responsible purchases from sustainable brands to help prevent damage to the environment as well as their own bank balance. Wizzcash are a payday loan lender and can provide help in financial emergencies, only. We support the message behind Second Hand September to help protect financial security and the risk of debt as a result of shopping. Get involved with Second Hand September now!