Secondhand September


PRE-LOVED Apps that specialise in secondhand shopping allow people to sell their clothes online.

Hand-me-downs and secondhand clothing replaced our lost luggage – and there’s lots more out there

Green Living
McKinley Neal

We finally made a trip away from Ireland to visit family for the first time in three years this summer, and all went well until a suitcase was missing when we made it back home. At first, we fully expected it to be delivered to our house in a few days, but after a week, optimism flagged and the suitcase is still missing nearly three months later.
What was in it? All the clothes that we had needed for two full weeks of summer wear for the two kids, head to toe. Our youngest still had a rotation of play clothes in her closet here, thanks to being the little sister, but our oldest only had the clothes she travelled in plus two extra tops and leggings.
I didn’t want to buy a load of new clothes, so we started to figure out a back-up plan. First, we mentioned to my sister-in-law what had happened, and she quickly had a check of our nieces’ wardrobes, as they are a couple of years older than our kids. That provided several leggings, tops and a swimsuit to tide us over. We then made regular rounds of local charity shops to find more essentials: several T-shirts, a dress, and two pristine lightweight jackets.
All of this leads nicely into the return of Secondhand September, an initiative started by Oxfam to promote awareness of the negative impact of fast fashion on the environment and workers in the supply chain, and to promote secondhand shopping as a first option before buying new.

Where to buy (and sell)
Shopping secondhand requires a different mindset, and more time, but it has gotten much more accessible and even trendy over the past few years. There are large online platforms and apps that specialise in secondhand shopping: Online charity shop Thriftify, peer-to-peer buy-and-sell app Depop and of course classics like Done Deal and eBay. Then, I have a few favourite smaller vintage-focused Irish businesses I have bought from, including Studio Minti, Vito Vintage and Theda’s Vintage. They have fewer items, but sometimes the timing, size and items are just ideal.
Also, all of our local communities have charity shops that have gems if you can look regularly; I bought four jumpers in excellent condition last winter for less than €20 for all of them combined. And, local businesses and organisations are offering great services: the Westport Family & Community Resource Centre held a school uniform exchange and rehomed loads of donated items; The Store Next Door in Westport has hosted three pop-ups shops by Mayo business 35mm Vintage, and at PAX we have several swap shops for adult and kids clothing and accessories. and Thriftify have secondhand kids clothes, which are especially good to use to find specific items for special occasions or particular colours or designs that children love. Also, many families I know have great luck in Freecycle groups on Facebook, and sometimes it’s possible to start a longer-term hand-me-down arrangement with someone who will consistently have larger clothes of a particular type.
So if your wardrobe suddenly vanishes thanks to a lost bag, or you need some new clothes for the season ahead, think outside the box and think second hand – your wallet and the planet will thank you.

McKinley Neal co-runs PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods, a minimal-waste shop in Westport offering bulk organic toods, reusable goods, household products, eco-trendly personal care Items and gifts.