Secondhand sustainability

While it seems like a lame excuse, what stops most people from going green is laziness and apathy. But what if it could be easy and even fun?

The ultimate garage sale, SecondHand Saturday, was first started in 2000 by Leichhardt Council when they saw an opportunity to enable residents to participate in a reuse (rather than recycle) program, which not only promoted sustainability but put a little bit of cash in the hands of the participants.

Since its inception, over 2,500 sales have been held across the area with more people signing up year after year – a great success, considering as much as 20,000 litres of water can be saved by purchasing a pre-loved cotton dress rather than a new one, which equals a cleaner, greener planet.

So what makes the event so popular? Well, according to Cheryl Walker, Head of Resource Recovery and Waste Management for Leichhardt Council, it’s the social element. Unlike shopping at Vinnies or the Salvos, SecondHand Saturday “creates a sense of community as households often get together with others in their street to sell their items. It was the intention of the program to have fun and meet others in the community.”

The great attitude towards secondhand items in the Inner West also helps. While some people are put off by the idea of a stranger’s hand-me-downs, many locals see it as an opportunity to own a unique item at a much-reduced price.

Of course, no one expects to sell used items for very much but garage sales can benefit the seller more than you would think. The thing is, one of the most common pieces of feedback that the council has received from SecondHand Saturday participants is that the event is a great way to get rid of the stuff they no longer want in a guilt-free way. For many sellers, the money they make is just icing on the cake.

If you don’t have the chance to get involved in the next upcoming SecondHand Saturday on April 12th, it doesn’t mean you can’t be an environmentally friendly clothes lover. Fashion-conscious locals, especially those who enjoy working with their hands, might want to look into upcycling. Unlike recycling where you take the base materials from an item to be recreated into something new, upcycling is about adding to and changing an existing item in your wardrobe to make it feel new.

From sewing on a simple embellishment to restitching a hole, there are plenty of ways to revamp old clothing. Leichhardt Council recently hosted an upcycling workshop with The Crafty Minx, Kelly Doust, as part of their Treading Lighting program to teach residents how to extend the life of their clothes in a fun way, and these events happen locally all the time.

For more information about future events and SecondHand Saturdays visit the News and Events page at

Words: Max Kobras.

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