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September Secondhand Challenge | Ethical Writers Co

September 3, 2015

Okay, fine, I’ll admit it…I’ve been known to make the occasional impulse buy.  This typically leads to buyers remorse, which is further compounded by the fact that I have yet another garment hanging in my closet that serves only to take up space and rarely gets to see the light of day.

I’ve been trying (pretty successfully, I must say!) to curb this problem as of late, particularly since I’ve made the commitment to be more ethical in my shopping choices and simplify my wardrobe overall.

Our culture of consumption often makes us feel that we need to buy,buy,buy to stay current or on-trend.  We’re bombarded with images and messages that further motivate that desire, however subconscious it may be, to accumulate new “stuff.”  It’s not unlikely that a lot of this “stuff” is cheaply made, cheap to buy, and will inevitably be discarded and thereby contributing to a “throwaway” mentality that leads to a lot of waste and only further perpetuates an industry built literally on the backs of underpaid, overworked laborers.

When we take a moment to evaluate how obsessed we’ve become with buying clothes (and household goods, electronic gadgets, etc) and then acknowledge the human cost associated with making them it can feel overwhelming.  Documentaries like The Trust Cost are exposing the sad realities behind the fashion industry and although we do not yet have the solution to this massive, institutionalized problem, this increase in visibility and awareness is leading to some positive change.  {some of my fellow members at the Ethical Writers Coalition have reviewed the documentary, check them out here and here}

Some of this change is evident in the really great designers and brands who intentionally use high-quality materials, pay fair wages and implement fair labor practices, ensure safety standards are in place in their factories, and make every effort to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Although  these types of brands tend to be more expensive (consider that cheap fast-fashion is cheap for a reason — the human cost is staggering), it’s a wonderful feeling knowing that the investment you’re making will not only last, but will support a system that treats both workers and the environment with respect.

Buying new is a great way to support a designer or brand you like and let’s be honest, it’s nice to buy something brand-spanking-new; however, one can find some really great things secondhand!

Along with my fellow members from the Ethical Writers Coalition, I’m excited to be participating in the September Secondhand Challenge.  We’re challenging you (and ourselves!) to buy secondhand first for the entire month of September. We’re focusing on clothing, but you could extend this to household items, too! Join in on the challenge and share your thoughts, tips, and secondhand finds with #ethicalwritersco.

Some Hot Tips When Shopping Secondhand

There are LOTS of options when shopping secondhand and it’s easy to find something to suit every taste and budget. In fact, if you prefer high-end designer labels, there are secondhand shops that specialize in just that OR if you’re more of a “buy-by-the-pound” type of gal, you’ll find that, too!

Maybe you’re the type of person who relishes the opportunity to dive into a bin of unsorted clothing in hopes of finding a treasure.  I am NOT that type of person and, like any type of shopping, buying secondhand can feel overwhelming, so I especially need to stay focused on this first tip:


Sure,  it’s nice to casually browse if you happen to pop into a secondhand shop unexpectedly, but if you’re setting out to spend your dollars then know exactly what you’re looking for.  Are you shopping for a fall jacket, boots that will go with everything, or a couple of sweaters to throw on as the weather cools down? This can help keep you focused from the inevitable distractions that may catch your eye.


There’s bound to be a Salvation Army or a Savers (or something similar in your region) around.  These two spots definitely require more sorting and digging, but one can definitely find some great things. In fact, I got one of my favorite pair of summer sandals from Savers and they lasted me a few years for only $10!  If you want something a bit more curated or a store that’s more selective in the types of items they’ll accept, then a designer or higher end consignment shop might be more your style.  For example, Blackbird Consignment in Providence, RI will only accept gently used  pieces in great condition. The shop is well organized and curated more like a boutique.  Another shop in Providence, GetModa, accepts only designer and high-end pieces.  A simple google search for your area is bound to show something!

Then, of course, there’s the interwebs. Try your luck with e-bay, or check out one of the many online consignment shops like Threadflip.


The great thing about shopping secondhand is that “new” pieces arrive very regularly, sometimes daily. So, if you didn’t what you were looking for one day you might strike gold by simply waiting a few days.

So what’s my plan for the secondhand challenge?

Lucky for me the Brimfield Fair, one of the largest antique/flea markets in the United States, is happening next week only a couple of hours from my home.  This fair is a veritable treasure chest of anything you may want: jewelry (there is always some AMAZING and beautifully crafted vintage Native American jewelry that I’m excited about), clothing, accessories, furniture, knick-knacks. ANYTHING!  My intentions for Brimfield: I’m hoping to score a turquoise bracelet and a vintage denim jacket.

So get on with your bad self , help to reduce, reuse , recycle, and breathe some new life into something used.

Stay tuned later this week for a roundup of secondhand challenge posts from my fellow members of the EWC.

Happy thrifting!



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Ella September 14, 2015 at 12:17 am

Great tips! When shopping second-hand, I find the plan and the patience are both easily forgotten and I need the reminders – thanks.

My Kind Closet September 16, 2015 at 1:34 am

Thanks for reading, Ella! 🙂


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