Campaigning for a greener future

Charity Shop Chic – Greening your Wardrobe

Buying a new outfit or three is most girls’ (and a fair few men’s) idea of fun, but although throw-away fashion can satisfy most budgets, the implications of fast fashion and keeping the prices low for consumers often cost the environment a great deal more. Every single year in the UK, over 900 million items of clothing are cast aside and typically find their way straight into landfill.

One way of preventing such a waste of textile products in the UK is to recycle unwanted clothes. There are a number of options available to people to enable them to do this, such as selling them on at car boot sales or on eBay, putting them in recycling bins, such as those for textile recycling organisation TRAID, or donating them to charity shops. This ensures a new life for clothes, shoes and other textiles, as well as many other unwanted items, and also reduces the ridiculous amount of waste being shipped off to landfill each year.

Supporting charity shops also helps raise money for a wealth of causes, from third world charities like Oxfam, children’s charities such as Barnardos and NSPCC, animal organisations, both national charities like PDSA and local organisations that support local animal homes and shelters, charities supporting the elderly and infirm, and many cancer and hospice shops such as Douglas MacMillan in the Midlands, Marie Curie Cancer Care and The Donna Louise Trust. And in addition to knowing that donations given and the money you spend supporting these charities will work hard to make a difference to many lives around the world, your money will go further and your green credentials get a welcome boost.

The clothing industry has bred a generation of people who feel the need to keep up with fashion and follow trends, wearing the new season’s colours and the ‘in’ cut of jeans or length of skirt; scoop necks, bat wing sleeves; geometric patterns, stripes and spots. The trends come and go, sometimes seeming as though styles have barely been around for 5 minutes before the highstreet shops clear the rails and bring out the next ‘got to have’ dress or pair of shoes. With the amount of synthetic fibres used in clothes today, fibres which do not decompose, it is even more important to try and do our bit to keep the amount of textiles finding their way to landfill to a minimum. Even purchasing clothes made from natural fibres such as cotton and linen don’t eliminate the environmental problems. Although we can continue to make clothes from plants when oil runs out, the vast amounts of chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers used to grow cotton alone make it one of the most environmentally polluting everyday products that consumers buy. In the US, the world’s largest cotton producer, 25% of the pesticides used in the entire country are used in the production of cotton.

So apart from the environmental reasons for reducing how many new clothes we buy from the high street, there is a bonus for our pockets too. Practically every town has at least one or two charity shops with a wide range of stock to peruse. You can often drop on high street names at a fraction of the price, and even find items of clothing that people have bought, realised they’re never actually going to wear, and so donated it to their local second hand shop. We’ve put together a series of outfits made up of clothes, shoes and accessories purchased exclusively from second hand shops, and have estimated how much the outfits are likely to have cost new to show what is out there, and how much more you can get for your money if know where to look. When you compare how much the outfits actually cost to put together, it can be both enlightening and surprising, just how much money you could save, and how much more your money can do for other people rather than lining the pockets of high street shops.

outfit1Outfit 1:

Purple Skirt – Edinburgh Woollen Mill (brand new) – £6 – cost new – £34.99

Multicoloured Cardigan – Edinburgh Woollen Mill – £5.99 – estimated cost new – £34.99

White Blouse – M&S – £3.50 – estimated cost new – £18

Shoes – Shu – £3 – estimated cost new – £20

Total cost: £18.49

On the high street: £107.98

outfit2Outfit 2

Brown Skirt – Essence (Evans) – £3.99 – estimated cost new – £25.99

Orange cardigan and top twin set – Daxon – £9 – estimated cost new – £38

Orange Coat – Eastex – £6 – estimated cost new – £55

Orange Boots – Rieker – £7.99 – estimated cost new – £50

Scarf – £1.50 – estimated cost new – £5

Gloves – £2.99 – estimated cost new – £15

Bag – £2.99 – estimated cost new – £10

Total cost: £34.46

On the high street: £198.99

outfit3Outfit 3

Brown Skirt – Hyde and Seek – £4.50 – estimated cost new – £40

Blouse – EI – £1.50 – estimated cost new – £12

Brown Vest Top – £1.50 – estimated cost new – £8

Sandals – Faith – £3 – estimated cost new – £45

Bracelet – 50p – estimated cost new – £5

Necklace – £1.25 – estimated cost new – £8

Total cost: £11.75

On the high street: £118

outfit4Outfit 4

Red Dress – Oasis – £5 – estimated cost new – £85

Black Sandals – Nine West – £5 – estimated cost new – £100

Black Cardi – Next – £1.50 – estimated cost new – £25

Total cost: £11.50

On the high street: £210

outfit5Outfit 5

Grey Suit – Next – £7.50 – estimated cost new – £75

Pink Blouse – Dorothy Perkins – £3.50 – estimated cost new – £28

Black Shoes – New Look – £2.50 – estimated cost new – £20

Bag – unknown – £1 – estimated cost new – £10

Total cost: £14.50

On the high street: £133

outfit6Outfit 6

Jeans – New Look – £3 – estimated cost new – £23

Shoes – Jane Shilton – £20 – estimated cost new – £80

Top – River Island – £2.50 – estimated cost new – £29.99

Cardigan – Berketex – £3 – estimated cost new – £15

Total cost: £28.50

On the high street: £147.99

outfit7Outfit 7

Leopard Print Coat – Zara – £13.95 – estimated cost new – £85

Blouse – Miss Selfridge – £2 – estimated cost new – £28

Scarf – unknown – £1 – estimated cost new – £5

Jeans – New Look – £3 – estimated cost new – £23

Shoes – Next (brand new) – £5.95 – cost new – £30

Total cost: £25.90

On the high street: £171

Posted in Ethical ShoppingFashion and BeautyGreen Living
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One Comment

  1. I have just found your site whilst looking for articles on Charity shops.
    Good to see that Charity shop shopping is promoted in a favourable light, I am Retail Manager for a small independent Hospice in Derbyshire. The Third Sector retail area needs all the good press it can get.

    Thank you

    Posted by Sue Wright November 27, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] kick start new environmentally friendly habits and recycle more of the waste we produce including textiles, glass and electrical goods, to making greener consumer choices such as choosing to buy peat free […]

  2. […] You can pick up any fashion glossy and find how popular the vintage trend is, with emphasis on one-off finds and bargains. In addition, you’re helping to recycle old items of clothing, some of which may still even have the labels on, and help charities raise vital funds for their work at the same time! Find out more about how much you could save becoming charity shop chic. […]

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