Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Keeping Your Support for the Environment Consistent

Do you not just go to Charity Shops, but love them?

A picture says 1,000 words
Just by shopping in charity shops, you are reducing your carbon footprint. By recycling clothing, books, household items, videos, DVDs and limitless other nic-nacs, being friendly to the earth and its inhabitants is a natural by-product of your shopping fun.

Here are some comments sent by fans of charity shops via Facebook:

Eddy Paul I do all my shopping at charity shops when I cant find what I want in skips
Gemma Baker Newbury berkshire I'm addicted to book shopping in charity shops, my fella gets annoyed as I cannot walk past a charity shop!
Scott Newsum Mostly we hope for Thomas the tank engine toys for our son, he's looking for Edward, james Henry & a Clarabel coach

So next time you enter a charity shop, feel proud that you are reducing your carbon footprint.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Fundraising event idea, fun for all

Oxfam Charity Shop Fashion

If you are looking to get creative with clothing and want to find an individual look, a charity shop fashion show might be just the event to help you.

In December 2002 I held a Charity Shop Fashion Show in North London.

The local newspapers were very supportive when I sent them information about this event. The Hornsey Journal supported the event from beginning to end. The Ham and High sent a photographer to the event to publish a review afterwards.

We used clothes from the North London Hospice and had about eight models to pace along the catwalk. We had an emcee to do commentary which added greatly to the fun.

We finished with an evening wear section and we sold most of the clothes modelled to people in the audience.

I had to apply for an alcohol licence through the local court. The process was quick, easy and fun. It gave me in practice pitching an idea to a panel. Watch out Dragons Den.

The night before the event, I sat in my kitchen, immobilised by nerves, wondering if anyone was going to show up. The phone went. It was a lady who had read about the event in the Hornsey Journal who wanted to know when her husband had to drop her off for the show. This call so comforted me (knowing one person was going to turn up, but I don't know if she did) that I stopped being so nervous.

Local Businesses Give Generously

We had asked local businesses for raffle prizes in return for a mention in the local paper and any other exposure as a result of the event.

As a result, for two years after the event, local cafes and shop keepers gave me coffees on the house and were really appreciative of the effort I'd made to provide some fun, publicity and raise funds for local good causes. The smidgen of publicity they got seemed to be immaterial to them.

Please contact me if you would like to have a chat about a Charity Shop Fashion Show in your area. The event can be held in the day time for kids or in the evening for adults. You can use professional models or give your friends a chance to be in the spotlight.

Holding a charity shop fashion show has many things to offer:
  • Fun for all the family - this gives anyone who wants to, the chance to spring down the catwalk in an unusual outfit. 
  • It gives people a chance to volunteer, contribute, have fun and perform. 
  • It brings the community together by giving businesses a chance to sponsor or support the event with raffle prizes.
  • It is an inventive way to get a charity into the local press, and even to get a newspaper to send a photographer to cover the event.
  • It is an entertaining event and a chance to see clothes of all different sizes, styles and vintage on the catwalk. 
  • It gives people on all different incomes the chance to buy something that they have seen being modelled. 
  • Fashion designers and students can take this opportunity to recycle clothes from charity shops and create your own designs to be modelled on the catwalk. 

Monday, 5 December 2011

An Openly or Quietly Proud Charity Shopper

Where did you get that?
How often do you see somebody wearing something you admire and, when you compliment them, they say 'I got it in a charity shop?' What do you make of them? Do you think 'what a clever bargain hunter?' or 'what a cheapskate?'

As a freshly graduated, jobless person in the recession of 1993, I would tell people I had bought things I was proud of in charity shops all the time. Friends asked me why I did this, and suggested that I ought not to tell people about bargains, particularly when the item was impressive.  People said, 'let them think you bought it new,' but then again it was the early 1990s.

Sly Secretiveness for Success
There was something to be said for this secretiveness, particularly in job interviews or at career networking events to help my job search by creating the illusion of being successful through my clothing.

The Charity Shop Snob
In charity shops I look for:

  • Things made from quality fabrics - linen, cotton, cashmere, silk, wool etc. Once (in Oxfam, Highgate, North London) I found a large quantity of red Hessian, which I used to make my own canvases for paintings
  • Designer items - these only interest me if:
    • they look good on, and
    • they are a bargain. 
  • A traditionally expensive item, i.e. a party dress, winter coat, boots or suit. 
The next blog will be about creating an individual look that tells people who you really are through your appearance. This isn't about 'image' (I haven't heard that word since my pop music-hazed teens) it's about having fun, creating a look for yourself. The Wardrobe Warrior contributor to this blog is a fine example of someone who does this (often through charity shops). 

Celebrate your Carbon Footprint

You Don't Have To Hug Trees to Save the Planet (though it is recommended) 

Whether you admit to buying from charity shops or not (more about this later) if you do, you are helping the planet by reducing waste by recycling and re-using, therefore reducing your carbon footprint. 

The one word in the 3 Rs of Recycling that may not come naturally to frequenters of charity shoppers is Reduce. Many of us are natural hoarders. Recycle and Re-use, yes. Reduce, maybe no but it's easily rectified. 
Do you have: 
  • Things you never wear because they don't fit, you don't like or they don't go with your other clothes?
  • Books you have read or films you've watched and won't read or watch again?
  • Items that you find you don't use?
  • Things that hold memories that you would rather forget? 
  • Clothes that you want to slim into, that constantly make you feel bad if you don't?
  • Or, is your wardrobe bulging so much that you cannot pick out an outfit easily and end up wearing the same few items? (like me).
It may be time to do a massive clear out. It is highly therapeutic, gives you more space and most importantly, it makes it easier to get to the things that inspire you. If you ever move home, it also means you have less clearing out to do and more time to concentrate on other things (speaking from experience). 

A Good Thing Going

It is very likely you have already thought of all this. Firstly, do you accumulate plastic bags. Did you know that the common, single-use plastic bag is one of the most re-used household items? 80% of plastic bags get a second use, even as a rubbish bag. This means that people use plastic bags for their rubbish instead of buying bin liners. If you have grown a huge crop of plastic bags, why not give them to your favourite charity shop.

Also, how about hangers? If you use a dry-cleaner frequently, you may find that the amount of wire hangers in your possession increases uncontrollably like Gizmo in the film Gremlins. Never seen it? You may well find a copy in a charity shop. 

When you have created more space, then finding that special something in a charity shop feels even more satisfying. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Children's clothing

Recession Chic is definitely for the kids too! For girls with an older male sibling, charity shops must be a Godsend?

Tomboy Relief

Charity shops seem to display children's clothes according to age which can make it relatively easy to find things in the right size, even though toddlers seem to come in all shapes and sizes too. I'll leave that expertise to mums and dads, as I don't have any little smashers of my own.

There seem to be a spate of toddler Santa outfits in charity shops right now.

If your child is in the school nativity play, why not find their character costume in a charity shop? There are wool rugs (sheep) bling jewellery (3 Kings) antlers (animals in stable) ponchos (Joseph and Mary) and lace shawls (Brian himself). Sorry, I meant baby Jesus.

Cute Costumes
Anyway, I'm sure you've got the picture. I'll update this if I see any outfits with the 'awww' factor (Slow Loris level or above).