Create your eco-wardrobe: in praise of pre-owned


Favourites in my wardrobe: all purchased second hand.


Contrary to popular belief, we don’t experience summer 24/7 here in South Africa! Some parts of the country such as Durban, a coastal city facing the Indian Ocean, is pretty warm year round, but here in Johannesburg, being inland and high lying, not so much. Just ask the thousands of visitors who arrived here without coats or jackets in June 2010 to experience the opening of the Soccer World Cup in Johannesburg! We are currently in the late stages of our Winter 2018 now. A touch of warmth in the afternoon breeze, the days becoming longer, and in the garden the winter loving Chinese Greens are beginning to flower and bolt in response to the warmer weather.



But not yet the time to pack away the winter woolies that I was folding up this morning as I started on an early Spring Clean. I have always loved knitwear, specifically in natural fabrics such as wool and cotton: cardigans and pullovers are a staple in my wardrobe, including for the summer when temperatures can drop quite a bit some evenings. For me there is nothing nicer than the soft warmth of a cosy pullover on a chilly day, or a light cardigan when the weather is cool, but not yet cold enough to go all out with scarves and coats.



I buy a lot of my clothing second hand (aka: pre-worn, pre-loved) and this is purely my preference from an eco-friendly standpoint and not because I can’t afford to buy new 😉 All the above (see pic) were purchased second hand within the last 3 or 4 years, from one of two Hospice shops which I frequent here in Johannesburg. All very affordable: from 5 ZAR up to about 60 ZAR. (On the Woolworths online website a new knit top for women can cost you several hundred ZAR, and even more for wool rich items.



Details of my Wooly Babies as pictured above, left to right (NOTE: some labels incomplete or missing):

  • Woolworths, made in SA, : lambswool, nylon, angora
  • News, made in SA, : polyester, nylon
  • Woolworths, made in SA, : wool, viscose, polyamide
  • 100% Shetland wool
  • No details (no label)
  • Made in Cambodia, : cotton, acrylic
  • Smith & McGregor, : lambswool
  • Marks & Spencer, : made in China, : 100% wool


Lucy Siegle at explains it as follows: “Rewearing old clothes also displaces the need to make new virgin fibres – manufactured with oil-based petroleum or using cotton – both with hulking environmental impacts (also add in dyeing, finishing and the use of factories with dubious ethics). Buying pre-worn saves clothes from landfill and gives us an ethical way of satisfying a lust for new clothes without embracing fast-fashion culture”.



Environmental concerns aside, I also find that the quality of many second hand knitwear items is just of better quality, more unique and authentic (those one of a kind lucky finds are still out there), more likely to be natural rather than synthetic, and definitely less costly than buying new. And if I can apply just one or two of those points as a reason to buy, then purchasing second hand over new wins every time.







11 thoughts on “Create your eco-wardrobe: in praise of pre-owned

  1. Annette le Roux 2018-07-31 / 3:14 pm

    My all time favorite fleecy lined top with a dreamcatcher logo was my luckiest find! Discovered in a black bag purchased for charity and cherished ever since. Thanks for your fascinating articles Amanda!

    Liked by 1 person

    • amanda 2018-07-31 / 3:49 pm

      Pleasure!! Funny how the oldies are often the besties 🙂


  2. 2018-08-01 / 7:50 am

    I totally agree with all the points mentioned in your post Amanda. Second hand clothing shops are invaluable when I am travelling so I simply purchase what I need for the current season and then donate back when they are no longer required. You make a very valid point about the quality of second-hand clothes as most clothing items these days are made for our “throw-away” society and are thread bare and out of shape after the first wash.

    Liked by 1 person

    • amanda 2018-08-01 / 9:20 am

      Wow that’s such an efficient way to manage your travelling wardrobe! And eco-friendly of course. I like that :). And yes, there is far too much out there that is just not made to last and ends up on landfills after a few weeks or months. Thank you for your comment


  3. SCLMRose 2018-08-05 / 9:05 pm

    Some of my second-hand purchases from thrift shops are still in use. You are right in that they are better quality than some of the current fashion wear. I love your collection. They look great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • amanda 2018-08-06 / 8:43 am

      Thank you! I try to keep a sort of Zero Waste Closed Loop going: for each new pre-owned item that I buy, I donate an item from home. The only thing that I’m not keen to buy second hand is shoes….still prefer to buy those new. And my underwear of course!


  4. hilaryhunterwriter 2018-08-18 / 10:02 am

    Hi Amanda, can’t agree more. I hate shopping but I’ve haunted charity shops for years, relishing the occassional finds. The quality items are generally a label I can’t afford new and they become a mainstay of my wardrobe for years. It all helps counter the consumerist taste for fast fashion. Keep up the good work xx


    • amanda 2018-08-18 / 10:10 am

      Thank you! Yes those occasional fabulous finds are really something special. Have a great weekend 🙂


  5. thecedarjournal 2018-11-15 / 9:19 pm

    You can’t go wrong with wool anything and second hand or second life given to a garment is a wonderful way to help save our planet.

    Liked by 1 person

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