Where do you buy the majority of your clothes from?
I'm addicted to the charity shops. I think it's the thrill of the bargain.
I was brought up shopping in charity shops........my mum would get her work clothes from there and always managed to find brand new, still with the original lables, M&S or Next ladies suit sets.
Charity shops aren't a new thing though.
The first charity shops
In the 19th century, Salvation Army shops sold second-hand clothing. Later, during the Second World War, other charities started to run shops as a way of raising money for the war effort and relieving hardship. It was after the conflict had ended that the first modern-style charity shops appeared, selling mainly donated goods to raise as much money as possible for the parent charity. The first such shop was set up by Oxfam in 1947 in Oxford, to raise funds to relieve famine in Nazi-occupied Greece.
Grab a bargain
Everything in this picture (including the clothes I'm wearing) came to £31. That's 9 items for £31! YEAH BABY! I mean, come on! Now I know I'm a Yorkshire lass but that sort of thing must make you tingly all over doesn't it?!?!?!?
Then there's the lables! I'm not really bothered about the lable in my clothes.....I go for print and shape but if that is your thing, then you'll still be okay. In this little stash I just bought, there are tops from H&M, FatFace and John Lewis.
If bargains and brands aren't the things that drive your shopping, then there's the environmental benefits: selling second hand goods prevents them going to landfill. All clothing that cannot be sold is recycled.
In the financial year 2018/19, shops removed 339,000 tonnes of textiles from the waste stream (data from the Charity Retail Association). Through reuse and recycling activity charity shops reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by around 6.9 million tonnes in 2015/16:
Re-use is one of the highest points on the waste hierarchy. Charity shops provide everyone in the UK with a sustainable and ethical option when they wish to dispose of unwanted clothes, books, furniture and other household items. A charity shop’s first choice is always to ensure these items are re-used by selling them on to local shoppers.
The next most sustainable option on the waste pyramid is to recycle. If a charity retailer cannot sell an item in the front of the shop, they will seek to recycle it directly or through a textile recycler. This is why, overall, charity shops are able to reuse or recycle more than 90 per cent of donated clothing, over 90 per cent of donated books and 85 per cent of donated electrical goods.
By boosting re-use and recycling, charity retail helps to reduce the overall amount of waste that ends up in landfill, the very lowest rung on the waste hierarchy. In 2018/19, 339,000 tonnes of textiles alone were kept out of landfill as a result of charity retail in the UK.
The reduction in landfill also makes a positive difference to the UK’s carbon footprint.
Household recycling partnerships
When local authority household recycling centres partner up with charity retailers this can deliver more efficient sites and more sustainable outcomes. For example, Hertfordshire County Council’s Harpenden centre hosts a Sue Ryder shop on site. This sells items which have been thrown away but are reusable, and the council and charity split the profits. Meanwhile, the amount of waste being buried as landfill is reduced.
Reduces bulky waste pick ups
It costs local authorities time and money to collect items of bulky waste, such as furniture and white goods, when their residents wish to dispose of them. Charity retail can help to lighten the load. In one London council, when a local resident calls the council to ask them to take away a piece of bulky waste, the helpdesk will advise them that a local charity shop will collect the items for free instead. This further helps to reduce landfill in the area as well as giving the shop much appreciated stock.
Slows down fast fashion
The average customer transaction value in a charity shop is just £4.05. The charity retail sector is not only built on sustainable principles but it provides clothing to people at a price they can afford. This provides market competition to “fast fashion” outlets – those who sell mass produced items imported from all around the world – on the high street, and gives consumers the option to buy clothes sustainably, whatever their budget.
Many charity retailers rescue old, broken or discarded items of furniture and “upcycle” them into new and unique products. One of our hospice members based in Berkshire even runs a Home Studio where buyers can help to design the final product which will be made for them from the donations that the charity has received. Promoting re-use and offering an alternative to a throwaway culture helps to promote a sustainable future for us all.
Saves Landfill Tax
Councils in Britain have to pay £91.35 in Landfill Tax for every tonne of waste they put into the ground – money they can retain to spend on services for local residents instead.
However, when charity shops collect clothes on the doorstep they are kept in the area and sold in local shops, with all the profit going to charity. This is a far more environmentally sustainable option.
How about the fact that your shoppping habits are helping to give individuals the opportuntiy to work? The number of volunteers in the charity sector has risen to an estimated 220,000. Volunteering in charity shops helps people to build confidence and develop employability skills that support the transition into paid work. Two-thirds of jobseeking volunteers say that volunteering has improved their employment prospects.
Still not sure if the bargains, brands, environmentally friendly, sustainable, job giving, feel good factor chairty shops are for you?
peaking to PA, Fee Gilfeather, head of audience and strategic planning at Oxfam, has said that she is expecting for shops to be inundated with treasured items due to people doing lockdown clearouts.
“From a shopper perspective I think that people can expect to find some really great treasures to buy, because everybody’s had a lockdown clear-out, and I think that charity shops are going to be full of some really great gems that people have cleared out of their homes,” she said.