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Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Charity Shop Chic(k)

I have two children, and children are constantly growing out of clothes, toys, books, games. I take all the grown-out-of goodies to my local community shop. This community shop gives out grants to various organisations. In the two full years that it has been running as a community shop it has given out £14,000 each year to local organisations such as the pre-school, the school, the Brownies, the cricket club, the playground, and many more. It is a fantastic resource for our village.

I have been making environmentally conscious decisions about what I purchase for a while now. Like most people, though, I feel I have been taking it a step at a time. I decided that over the coming year I'm going to change the way I shop for clothes. I felt that I hadn't really, up to now, checked out the ethics and sustainability of the clothes I buy. Time to change all that. From now on, I will make a point of thinking about where clothes have travelled from, what the lives of the people who make those clothes are like, who benefits from my purchase and who and what suffers from it.

I was out for the day with a friend in a nearby town last week and strolling down the quaint high street we spotted a shop called 'Resource'. The name caught my eye and we had a look. The shop was a 'fifty/fifty' style second hand shop where you can take along your quality second hand clothing and if the shop can sell the item they give you fifty percent of the sales price. I parted with twenty pounds for a lovely designer skirt. I'll admit I have no idea who benefitted or who suffered from the original purchase, but I did feel that as I was reusing resources it was a move in the right direction.

A skirt needs something to wear with it and a rummage through my wardrobe came up with nothing, so the next time I was out on an errand I checked out the nearest charity shop. For the grand sum of £3.75 I bought two designer label tops to go with my new skirt.

As my attention had been turned to charity shop clothing I decided it was time I checked something out that had been at the back of my mind for some time. I remember seeing an advert in the window of Oxfam advertising that they'd give you a £5 Marks & Spencer voucher if you brought in a bag of clothing or soft furnishings (towels, sheets, curtains, etc) containing a Marks and Spencer item. Sounds great, doesn't it. So what's the catch, I thought? I had several bags of children's clothes to take to my local community shop. However, there is an Oxfam in my nearest town, so I kept one bag back which contained a Marks and Spencer children's dressing gown amongst other bits and pieces and I took it along to Oxfam today. It was gratefully accepted and I was given my £5 voucher. The voucher can be used on clothing, home and beauty products when you spend £35 pounds or more. Fair enough, I thought. However, it is only valid between 1st and 30th of September 2009. Well, a fiver won't even cover the bus fare to my nearest Marks and Spencer and as I don't have a trip planned before the end of the month it is most unlikely I'll get to use my £5 voucher. Ah well! There had to be a catch.

But of course, forewarned, you'll know to hang on to your charity shop bag until you know what you're going to redeem your voucher on and when (or you could just enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that your unwanted items are being given a new lease of life and helping relieve poverty – there's no catch to that bit).

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