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The Gap Year Blog

How Charity Shops are Saving the Environment

29 Jan 2020 15:50 PM
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We all like to wear clothes that feel clean, brand new, and perhaps bought on your favourite online or in store shop. But with more and more charity shops popping up, people are ditching the high-street shops and buying their chic clothing from charity shops.

We live in a world where we see one thing, and we immediately have to have it. New, clean, without any threads and definitely no tears. The product comes packaged and smelling fresh from the factory or sewing machine.

But why are we so enticed into mainstream clothing everyone is going to have anyway? Which is why ditching the mainstream shops and going to charity shops will solve the over consumption of clothing.

Charity shops are stores that are put in place for ordinary people to donate their possessions that they no longer use, which are then resold to the public for a lesser price. Some examples include clothing, homeware, books, children’s clothing and any bric-a-bracs. Most of the time, people volunteer to work in charity shops, meaning most of the money goes towards the charity. Example’s include, children’s trust, cancer research UK, or Barnado’s. On average, each charity shop diverts around 29 tonnes of textiles away from landfill.

With an average of 11,000 charity shops in the UK, they are all contributing massively to the decrease in clothing getting into landfill. Collectively, they are having a huge impact on the environment. Charities are changing the ways we think nationally, making people realise that donating and giving back to the community is way more effective than throwing out unloved clothing.

In helping to decrease the number of brand new clothing bought in the UK, the charity Oxfam created a campaign encouraging people to think twice about “the fashion they are buying and to say No to New for 30 days” – They called this second-hand September. This meant that you could not buy a new piece of clothing in September other than second hand. More than two tonnes of new clothes are bought every minute in the UK. Oxfam determined if everyone in the UK took part in Second-hand September, the UK would save the same amount of emissions as flying a plane around the world 900 times.

There are always some amazing bargains to be bought in charity shops, especially all the designer wear. Why buy a new Gucci bag when one can be sitting in your local charity shop?  

To break it down – Here are 10 environmental benefits of charity retail:

1. It promotes re-use. If you’ve had older siblings, you’d know what it’s like to re-use clothing. Charity shops are promoting a sustainable and ethical option for people to give to the community rather than dispose.

2. Reduces landfill. Charities help to reduce the amount of clothing gets sent to landfill. Instead people can benefit from buying old clothing. In 2018/19, 339,000 tonnes of textiles alone were kept out of landfill as a result of charity retail in the UK.

3. Reduces Co2. The reduction of landfill means Co2 levels decrease also!

4. Encourages recycling. Even if clothing is not sold in charity shops, they would send the clothing and the odd objects to a textile recycler.

5. Slows down Fast Fashion. With more people going to charity shops, there would be less demand in mainstream clothing stores, which would decrease the amount of clothing companies would make.

6. Upcycling. A great way to recycle with style is to transform an object completely from one thing to another. Offering an alternative way to recycle is always great!

7. Keeps it local. Not sending clothing to far away distances in bulk, keeps it local and saves money and energy!

8. Redcues bulky waste pick-ups. Local authorities are forced to pay an enormous amount of money to collect items of bulky waste.

9. Saves landfill tax! Councils in Britain have to pay £91.35 in Landfill Tax for every tonne of waste they put into the ground. Say what???

10. YOU are saving the environment. Every small gesture helps, and if you can buy from charity shops rather than encouraging fast fashion, then please DO!

By Aisha Benmeriem - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservationcommunityteaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!