There, I’ve said it. It’s out in the public domain now and I can’t go back. I’m committing to 12 months of only shopping in charity or second-hand shops for all non-essentially-new items (but not for, you know, like underwear and batteries – gross and useless in that order).
Why? Oh all sorts of reasons. Mainly because I want to see if I can turn my commitment to sustainable living up a notch. I’m not an eco-warrior. I’m just environmentally conscious. I like to do my bit and be responsible for myself. I like to recycle and I see no reason why I shouldn’t try to reduce landfill of clothes just as I do with empty milk bottles.
The idea of today’s throwaway ‘fast fashion’ hasn’t sat well with me for a while now, possibly because I always used to get a thrill from new clothes, but I could never reason why. Now, I see a bulging wardrobe filled with whatever trend I’ve fallen victim to, all because of mounting impulse purchases and the guilt of throwing things away when I’ve only worn them once. The problem is that the wardrobe in question was jammed with cheap fabrics, plastic jewellery and shoes that would fall apart after a season of wear, instead of well-made, timeless items that my grandkids (someday…!) might call ‘vintage’.
I’m looking forward to the challenge. I have fond memories of second-hand. I loved trawling our local charity shops for additions to my Polly Pocket or Sylvanian Families when I was little. My gran’s neighbour had a daughter who was a year older than me, her parents had a plush flat in Marylebone and I would get her beautiful hand-me-downs as she grew ever taller. And most of all, I remember my mum, still a wonderful seamstress, who made the most extraordinarily clever outfits for me, out of second-hand material or re-fashioned from adult clothes. I really should dig out a photo of one particularly luminous ensemble (I was an 80’s child).
Since starting this challenge, I’ve picked up some gorgeous bits. I got the white top pictured from the Salvation Army shop in Oxford Circus (on Princes Street) for £6. It’s perfect for work and easy to dress up for an evening with heels and statement jewellery. The bag is vintage from Rokit in Covent Garden (Shelton Street) and was a gift from my lovely housemates to celebrate the start of my second-hand journey.
Do you have any favourite second-hand shops you’d recommend in London? I’ll be reporting back regularly throughout the challenge so I’m looking for more recycled retail outlets to investigate.
This is a guest post by charity Communications Manager and blogger Cat Hamou.