Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth. But according to a new report by the Environmental Audit Committee, £140m of ‘fast fashion’ clothing is going to landfill, every year and MP Mary Creagh explains how “our desire for fast fashion means that carbon emissions, water pollution, chemical and plastic pollution are destroying our fragile planet.”
Fast fashion is snowballing, with increasing demand for customers to get their hands on the latest trends fresh from retailers. But this snowball must stop. The constant churning out of cheap clothing on a massive scale is polluting the planet with over 300,000 tonnes of clothes ending up in landfill every year, and that number is only increasing. Fashion must become environmentally sustainable to slow down the gathering momentum of pollution and waste, and we’re running out of time.
At Cybertill we are making a call for fashion retailers to consider their impact on the environment and we want to encourage charity retailers to use this as leverage and partner with high street fashion brands to increase donations.
A charity retailer who is leading the way and doing just that is Oxfam with their partnership with Marks and Spencer. The partnership, they have called ‘Shwopping’, is a powerful initiative that not only encourages customers to donate clothes, it rewards them for doing so, providing Oxfam charity shops with over 20 million items, worth an estimated £16 million for the charities work. This is an easy model for charity retailers of all shapes and sizes to replicate. For example, small independent one-store charity shops should look to partner with independent shops and boutiques within their town or high street. A great business opportunity and a great way to create a sense of community on your local high street.
Retailers and consumers alike have a responsibility to sustainable fashion and it is imperative that the UK, a country that buys more clothes per person than any other country in Europe, sets an example on a global stage. Sustainability is about ensuring what consumers buy can be recycled or reused, and manufacturers are encouraged to consider and pay for the end of life process for products, something that few high street retailers are currently working towards.
Charity retailers need to have the technology in place to handle partnering with their high street counterparts, and the possibility of increasing donations means warehouse management and donor capture is essential. Turning these ‘donation boxes’ into fully efficient ‘donation stations’ with built in tablets and printers, will also drastically increase donor information, not to mention Gift Aid capture.
Charities of all sizes must be building partnerships into their strategies whether the recommendations get put in place by the government or not. We have seen a shift in consumer’s embracing sustainable fashion and there’s no reason charity retailers should miss out – after all, they set the trend in sustainable fashion.
In recent years there has been a huge revival of vintage fashion with the Gen Z and Millennial market, making charity shops the perfect destination for customers who want to grab a bargain and maybe find a one-off item. The popularity of vintage fashion is a brilliant move towards more sustainable shopping from consumers and a perfect angle for charity shops to obtain custom against the high street giants.
For more information about the initiatives Cybertill is doing to promote sustainability and charity retail innovation, check our charity retail technology resources page.
Rachel Abraham, Marketing Communications Executive, Cybertill