FAQs: Charity shops and the environment
Please click on the questions to reveal the answers.
- How do charity shops help the environment?
Charity shops sell almost wholly second hand goods – a large proportion of which is clothing. Had they not been donated to a charity shop, these items would have been discarded into the domestic waste stream and would probably have ended up going to a landfill site. Charity shops ensure that large quantities of clothing and other goods are reused. Clothing that cannot be sold is recycled. For many years, charity shops have been recycling in large volumes.
Reuse of textiles saves 33kg of CO2 equivalent per kilo of textiles compared to disposal, and 29 kg compared to recycling. Charity shops’ reuse activity alone saves around 6.3m tonnes of CO2 each year. Recycling of textiles by charity shops also saves substantial amounts.
Not only do charity shops recycle donated goods brought to them by members of the public, some charities collect goods door-to-door. 87% of everything sold in UK charity shops is an unwanted item donated by a member of the public.
- How do charity shops contribute to textile recycling?
It is estimated that the charity shops sector re-uses or recycles well over 363,000 tonnes of textiles each year. This represents some 47% of the total volume of textiles being reused and recycled in the UK. Without the work of charity shops this material would end up going to landfill at the expense of local authorities.
- How do charity shops contribute to other forms of recycling?
Textiles represent between 50-60% of materials sold by charity shops. There is, therefore, a significant volume of other materials also re-used and removed from the domestic waste stream: paper in the form of books, glass and metal in bric-a-brac and wood in furniture. The re-use and recycling aspects of the work of charity shops often goes unrecognised.