Last week we hosted a clothing swap event at Start Point Coffee Shop. Working in collaboration with Katie from the local Facebook group, Thrift – Bredbury, Romiley and Woodley, our community came together to share good quality clothing, shoes and accessories with each other.
Our local Facebook thrift page has become a go to page for those items you no longer use or need but have plenty of life left in them. Particularly popular with families, clothing is always available, with bundles of children’s clothing available most days. I personally take great joy in having a good rummage through the next sizes needed for my three children, often finding big name brands, and sometimes clothing still with tags intact (we all receive gifts or purchase clothing in the sale out of season that they don’t get round to wearing!).
Katie, who is an admin for the local Thrift Facebook page, came up with the idea that we could hold a ‘clothing swap’ event, where those who had items to move on could get rid in bulk (saves those bags hanging about at home) and those who were after something new could view a wide variety of items at once.
Our community coffee shop, Start Point in Woodley, was a great place to hold the event, being central to the local community with free parking available. We invited people to drop off their unwanted, good quality, clean items to the coffee shop during the week before the event and then roped in some willing volunteers to help us sort the items on the day of the event into men’s, women’s, and children’s categories to help us set up our ‘thrift shop’ for the evening event. A few days before the event I did worry that we didn’t have many items donated, but that soon changed! After offering to collect clothing from local people who may not be able to easily reach us with bin bags in tow, and many last minute drop offs from those grateful of some motivation to have a wardrobe sort out, we had a good amount and selection of stock.
Our evening thrift event began at 6.30pm and it was brilliant to see the items displayed. Our community room became the ‘Children’s Shop’, with everything from baby clothes, to coats, to school clothes and everyday items. The coffee shop had sections for men’s clothing (including suits, shirts and brands such as Next, Marks and Spencer and Superdry), the women’s clothing was divided into ‘petite’, ‘midsize’ and ‘plus size’ and we also had an accessories table. Some of them items were amazing; new with tags, all season items, a beautiful prom style dress, work wear, sports wear and many, many pairs of jeans! Brands included Ted Baker, Primark, River Island, Boohoo, Little Mistress, Cath Kidston, Tu, George and many more.
Our social enterprise coffee shop was open for drinks and snacks meaning those who joined us for the evening could stop and chat. Some had never visited us before and were happy to hear more about the work we do. We had carrier bags available to be filled (many savvy shoppers brought their own!) and it was lovely to chat to the community while having a good sort through the clothes. One lady commented, “…this is such a good idea. I’ve got some lovely items and I’ve spoken to some lovely people, thank you”.
Although many items left us for life in their new wardrobe, clothing remained at the end of the night. Not ones to waste an opportunity, we bagged up the clothing and divided it between Wellspring Stockport, who help people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and a local women’s centre.
The event was a brilliant way to bring the community together but also a good time to think and reflect on the sheer amount of clothing that may have otherwise ended up in landfill! Did you know that 350,000 tonnes, that’s around £140 million worth of used but still wearable clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year? Next time you have clothing, or other items, you no longer want or need, consider joining a local Facebook page that allows you to pass those items on. Local pages to us include:
Thrift – Bredbury, Romiley and Woodley https://www.facebook.com/groups/537611807079037/about
Stockport Free to a Good Home
Please ensure you read all rules before singing up and sharing your items on the page and these vary group to group.
Charity shops are also always looking for good quality items to sell and often charities working across the UK and even the world accept donations. Clothing can also be recycled with local council recycling centres having designated bins for clothing and bedding. Animal shelters will also accept bedding and towels to use when caring for their animals. Schools are often happy to take uniform items to pass on also.
If you are interested in finding out more about what is being done on a larger scale about textile waste, please visit https://wrap.org.uk/taking-action/textiles/initiatives/textiles-2030