Charity shops are not “dumping grounds” for fast fashion and are still full of high-quality goods, a sector chief has said.
Trade, a charity that works to stop clothes from being thrown out, By 2022, it has diverted 3,222 tons of clothes from landfills and incineration, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 30,609 tons and putting more than 11.2 million clothes into use.
Maria Chenoweth, the charity’s chief executive, said fast fashion was designed to “not last”, but if it was in good condition it could still be sold in charity shops.
She told the PA news agency: “Charity shops don’t want rubbish. We are not a junkyard or a graveyard for fast fashion.
“Please do not take unworn, unusable clothes to charity shops as they charge us for handling and disposal of unworn items.
“One of the best things you can do for charity is to donate clothes that can still be worn and it’s fast fashion, as long as someone else can wear it. It’s okay, we can still take it.
“If it’s torn, if it’s torn, if the end has fallen off, if you’ve scratched it in the night, then we can’t hold it. Similarly, people try to bring duvets that are completely unused.
“In that sense, we are not recyclers. It’s an industry that recycles and transfers things and makes people happy.
Ms Chenoweth said charity shops are still full of gems, with a perusal of the rails at Trade Dalston’s store in east London revealing items from the 1950s and 1980s as well as designer treasures.
“You can go into charity shops, especially Traid shops, and you can find loads of clothing items that were originally built for service and still last today,” she said.
Ms Chenoweth pointed out that young people were returning to the second-hand market, with charity retail up 12 per cent on last year.
This is being driven by increasing footfall of new customers, she said.
“Now you’re starting to see school children going into charity shops after school, which is really great,” she said.
“The other thing people don’t realize about charity retail is that we have as many shops as your lifestyle fashion brands and we have as many people working in charity retail as we do high street clothes shops, including volunteers.
“The thing with charity retail is, you know, there’s all this greenwashing at the moment and people are trying to find a good story to perpetuate fast fashion, but charity retail actually has a good story and we don’t show that.
“It is really kind economy, green economy and circular economy in its true form. In part, I hope that such an increase will bring sales.
Looking ahead to the future of charity retail, Ms Chenout said: “Looking forward, I think I still see it going into charity shops that are not good quality, and if it’s not good quality it will sell but it will sell.” It means we have to sell more at lower prices.
“So everything is still working the same way. I hope it continues that way.
The money collected in Traid shops goes to international projects to improve conditions and working practices in the textile industry.
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