Who doesn’t want to look good, feel good, and do good? There’s a simple solution to helping our planet and it could be the very reason I decide to stay in England forever:
What exactly is a charity shop?
A charity shop is a largely British institution where items such as second-hand clothing, books, and furniture are sold to benefit parent charities. People drop off their unwanted possessions to the shops, and then they are resold, with the money directly benefiting the charity. Most shops are also run entirely by volunteers.
According to the Charity Retail Association, more than £295 million a year (almost $387 million) is raised by charity shops in the UK for a range of causes. WOW! When you buy from a charity shop, you aren’t just getting a new piece for your closet: you’re helping make a difference to someone in need!
In the United States, a similar parallel would be thrift shops. Mackelmore made those cool again and by the end of this article hopefully you’ll love charity, shops, too!
How does charity shopping help the environment?
That spiffy new shirt you just bought off Amazon arrived at your door without a second thought, but do you realize how much energy and water was used to produce that shirt? And how much more will be needed to maintain it?
According to the World Wildlife Fund, it takes around 2,700 litres of water to make just ONE cotton shirt. That’s enough water for one person to drink for 900 days – almost three years!
Even after it’s made, a shirt’s energy consumption has only just begun. One load of washing uses 40 gallons of water, and one load of drying uses five times more energy than that load of wash.
When you charity shop, you reduce the need for more clothing to be made, saving water and energy. Take it a step further by letting your clothes air dry instead of using a drying machine, or hand wash items if you only have a few pieces. If everyone takes one small action, we can start to see very big change!
The Real Faux Pas of Fast Fashion
If you’re like me, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. I’m a bargain hunter, so if it’s got a low number on the price tag, my eyes are on it. What most of us don’t realize, myself included, is that poor quality clothing is also detrimental to the environment.
Today we want everything instantly (thanks a lot, Amazon) so products are made quickly and unsustainably, like our clothes. We get a shirt for a few dollars and figure, hey, if I only wear it a handful of times and then dump it, it’ll still be worth the money. But when we’re done with these clothes and toss them in the trash, they end up in a landfill.
Instead, we should focus on reusing clothes and buying better quality clothing that lasts longer. It might be a little more expensive, but think of it like this: one good shirt that costs a little more is going to save you buying another two or three over the course of time.
And that brings us right back to charity shops as an awesome sustainable solution! Extend the lifetime of clothes that already exist, save water and energy, and add some pre-loved flare to your outfits!
Popular Charity Shops in England
Okay, charity shops are great, but how do I start? Where do I find one? What does it even look like? A normal store?
Fret not, a charity shop is just like any other clothing store with racks and a cash register. There are loads of different kinds, but here are a few of the biggest names, and what they support.
British Heart Foundation – Our mission is to play a leading role in the fight against disease of the heart and circulation so that it is no longer a major cause of disability and premature death. To pioneer research into the causes of heart disease and improved methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Oxfam GB – ‘Our purpose is to help create lasting solutions to the injustice of poverty. We are part of a global movement for change, empowering people to create a future that is secure, just and free from poverty.’
Cancer Research UK – Our vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.
British Red Cross – The mission of the British Red Cross is to mobilise the power of humanity so that individuals and communities can prepare for, deal with and recover from a crisis, summed up by the strapline ‘refusing to ignore people in crisis’.
Salvation Army – Called to be disciples of Jesus Christ, The Salvation Army United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland exists to save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity.
My Favorite Charity Shop Finds!
This entire outfit was all bought second hand, except for the jeans. I’m a sucker for TJ Maxx… but everything else is from a charity shop or second hand store. I even got the Adidas for free on Facebook marketplace! SCORE!
In Conclusion : Charity shop to look good, feel good, and do good for our planet!
Go find your local charity shop next time you need new clothing and help make a difference!