Promotes re-use: Re-use is one of the highest points on the waste hierarchy. Charity shops provide a sustainable and ethical option when they wish to dispose of unwanted clothes, books, furniture and other household items. A charity shop’s first choice is always to ensure these items are re-used by selling them on.
Promotes recycling: The next most sustainable option is to recycle. If a charity shop cannot sell an item, they will seek to recycle it via a textile recycler. Charity shops are able to reuse or recycle more than 90% of donated clothing, over 90% of donated books and 85% of donated electrical goods.
Reduces landfill: By boosting re-use and recycling, charity retail helps to reduce waste that ends up in landfill. In 2018/19, 339,000 tonnes of textiles alone were kept out of landfill as a result of UK charity retail.
Saves landfill tax: Councils in Britain have to pay £94.15 in Landfill Tax for every tonne of waste they put into the ground – money they can retain to spend on services for local residents instead.
Reduces CO2: The reduction in landfill also makes a positive difference to the UK’s carbon footprint.
Household recycling partnerships: When local authority recycling centres partner up with charity retailers this can deliver more efficient sites and sustainable outcomes. Hertfordshire County Council’s Harpenden centre hosts a Sue Ryder shop on site. This sells items which have been thrown away but are reusable. The council and charity split the profits, and landfill is reduced.
Reduces bulky waste pick ups: It costs local authorities time and money to collect items of bulky waste, such as furniture and white goods. Charity retail can help to lighten the load. In one London council, when a local resident calls to request removal of a piece of bulky waste, the helpdesk will advise them that a local charity shop can do this for free instead. This helps charity retailers and reduces landfill.
Slows down fast fashion: The charity retail sector is not only built on sustainable principles but it provides clothing to people at a price they can afford. This provides market competition to “fast fashion” outlets – those who sell mass produced items imported from around the world – on the high street, and gives consumers the option to buy clothes sustainably, whatever their budget.
Upcycling: Many charity retailers rescue old, broken or discarded items of furniture and upcycle them into new and unique products. One of our hospice members runs a studio where buyers can help to design the final product which will be made for them from the donations that the charity has received. Promoting re-use and offering an alternative to a throwaway culture encourages a more sustainable future.
Keeps it local: When you donate direct to a charity shop it is more likely that these items are kept in the local area and sold in local shops, with all the profit going to charity.