When it comes to saving the world there’s really not a huge amount you can do unless you’re, oh I dunno, the President of America- and he’s just terminated the Environment Protection Agency. So, now it’s our turn to terminate fast-fashion. And I’ve found the antidote; charity shops.
Since moving back from Greece where I saw more plastic than I did dolphins, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I could do towards lessening my footprint- baring in mind i’m a coffee drinking, clothes loving twenty something living in the consumer capital of Britain. I do the classic stuff; carry shopping back home scooped up in my sweater to avoid the dreaded plastic bags, reject straws at bars and giving to charity every month. Thing is, I wanted to make an actual tangible change that fit into my lifestyle and didn’t deny my inalienable right to dress up and drink 5 jaegerbombs on a Friday night.
So, faced with a new flat and nothing to go in it, I had an epiphany. I made charity shops my bitch. It was like a pin dropped in my head; I could buy 70% of the stuff I needed from them, the money goes to charity (not into funding sweatshops) AND I’m reusing and recycling instead of just consuming more new shit. It delays the process of packing the ground with more garbage. I mean, it really works for everybody; where on the high street do you find best selling books for a mere 1 or 2 smackaroons? What clothing chain sells one of a kind clothes that no one else is wearing? I got a pair of knee high, red faux snakeskin boots for £5, for fuck sakes.
You’ll find pieces that are higher quality than anything you’ve ever found in Topshop, plus there’s none of that “£50 per white t-shirt” bullshit that vintage shops have just started realising they can get away with.
Of course, there’s always exceptions to the rule- I’m not mental so I don’t buy makeup and beauty or food from charity shops. But when it comes to house decor, soft furnishings, electrics, clothes, shoes and accessories there’s no excuse not to.
The trick is to go into it head first. Far too often walking into a charity shop feels like walking into 1982. There’s no edgy displays, edgy exposed ceilings, no ones playing Haim and well, the organisation is akin to an 8 year olds garage sale, but stick at it! Have a rummage! There’s almost always something amazing buried deep in the racks.
I found a pink chiffon ball gown at the back of an extremely unappealing rail of fancy dress suits and scratchy nylon beige cardigans. This dusky gold and pink number will confidently carry me through two weddings this year, and i’ll be sipping an Aperol spritz with the smug knowledge that I spent a fraction of the price compared to everyone there. I also know I won’t get caught in a dreaded “Who Wore It Best” fandango AND in buying it I know I’ve done some good.
There’s plenty more stuff we could all be doing to help the (frankly terrifyingly damaged) environment, so check out my lazy girls guide to saving the world and get switching those lightbulbs, but in the meantime when you’re next hitting the high street, peel off into the nearest charity shop and have a dig for 5 minutes – chances are you’ll come out with some awesome stuff you didn’t even know you wanted.
It might seem like there are no downsides this altruistic shopping experience but be warned- it gets ridiculously addictive; because everything is so cheap, you trick yourself into thinking you’re spending barely any cash until you’re £100 down and four candle holders, three pairs of boots and a vintage rug better off.
Go forth, find out what your plastic footprint is, and trade Topshop for Oxfam. You’ll feel like a olden day eco-warrior. Just with knee-high snakeskin boots.