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The word second hand used to have a bit of an undertone, but here at SwapUp we’re proud to say that we buy and sell second hand items!
Most of our office furniture and equipment and supplies are second hand. It took time to research and buy the right products that we needed, but we strive to keep our vision to minimise the business’ impact. Our experience buying second hand items is one of the reasons why we want to make the process of buying second hand clothes as easy as buying new.
Some people ask if it’s okay to wear second hand clothes, particularly for kids. Personally, we have been wearing second hand clothes most of our lives, either hand-me-downs or buying from others, and guess what? We’ve survived! The only key is to wash your items thoroughly before you wear them, just like you would with new clothes. In fact, new clothes are often treated with stain-removers, color-fasteners, anti-wrinkle agents, softeners and other chemical treatments, so it is even more important to wash before you wear them!
With global fast fashion brands offering clothes at the same price as a cup of coffee, people often wonder why they need to buy second hand. After all, you can get a new dress for almost nothing, so why not buy new?
It’s because the actual price of the clothes they offer are much higher than what’s on the price tag! Fast fashion brands often pay their workers sub-poverty wage, forcing them to work in precarious conditions. All this so they can be “competitive” and sell insanely high volumes of cheap clothing. Zara alone produced over 840 million clothing items in one year. These items often have poor quality, so they tend to have a shorter life and end up in the landfill sooner compared to other better quality products.
This makes fashion disposable. Did you know Australians produce 6,000 kg of fashion waste every 10 minutes? Six tonnes in ten minutes! This likely includes a large portion of women’s clothes because the trends change so fast — kids’ clothes are another contender as they can be quickly outgrown, particularly in the early years of growth. And they all go to the landfill, where most of them will not decompose and remain pollutants to the environment for many years to come.
By buying second hand, you help increase the clothes’ life (even if they’re from fast fashion), reducing their overall impact and reducing demand for new clothing. With more people buying second hand, we signal to the fashion industry that we want the fast fashion model to change.
Thankfully as the movement to reuse clothing gains momentum, it’s easier than ever to find second hand clothes! You can find the nearest op shops or nearest second hand clothes market using keywords such as op shops near me or thrift stores near me or second hand clothes market near me. Some people also call them thrifties or savers. Alternatively, you can stick to your couch and browse second hand clothes from online thrift store in Australia like *ahem* SwapUp. Our website even allows you to filter by your desired attributes or search using keywords, so you can find things easily.
After you enjoy the second hand clothes, If you have more time, you could sell your items in the marketplace. You should be prepared to spend significant time listing, negotiating and setting up meeting time or shipping details with buyers. Some vintage stores also have a buyback scheme, so you could bring your old clothes there.
Alternatively, you can sell them via SwapUp online consignment platform hassle-free: we’ll sort, list and take professional photographs of your items. You can just sit back and cash out or donate your earnings at any time. You can also use it up as store credit!
You may also choose to donate or pass them down to family and friends. If you choose to donate the clothes, please try as much to donate used clothes to speciality organisations, such as St Kilda Mums, who would more likely channel these clothes to people in need in your local area (instead of sending them in bulk to other countries). This way, you help reduce the carbon footprint of those clothes.
If the second hand clothes are no longer in wearable condition, consider recycling them into other uses such as a mop. Stay tuned - in the upcoming journal article we will share a few ideas on how to turn unused clothing articles into coasters, tote bags, and other useful items. Some people call this upcycling. I like that word a lot!