The gentrification of charity shops

Photo taken by Prudence Earl - Unsplash

In light of turning our backs on fast fashion, many of us have begun to shop in charity shops instead of high street places and online websites. Charity shops provide good quality second-hand clothing for a budget price. Not only that, it contributes to good causes. There are huge benefits, including upcycling old garments and not producing more landfill with perfectly wearable clothing. Not to mention not feeding into companies that generate mass amounts of clothing for every trend under the sun. Charity shopping is a great way to help save the planet a little and find unique items that not everyone will have. Nothing could go wrong… could it?

Hold on who else has seen an old jumper from the nineties that was £3 in the charity shop resold on Depop for £50!?

With charity shopping becoming less stigmatised and more of a mainstream activity, this creates its own set of problems, especially when items can be bought to resell on apps for a lot more money. The overconsumption and the exploitation of cheap clothing go against what they were set out to do in the first place – to cater to those who cannot afford expensive clothes. Charity shops were favourable and suitable for those who could not afford valuable items and could obtain them cheaply, but second-hand. They lose their meaning if those who can shop more ethically choose to exploit charity shops for their financial gain. Not only that, the overconsumption of second-hand clothes forces charity shops to up their prices, making them no longer affordable to those who needed it.

To some, it may be a hobby or an excellent opportunity for a small business. Sellers selling on these apps from their wardrobe at an attempt at a clear-out is harmless. But as people start using charity shops as a way to profit instead, the overconsumption of hauling all the valuable items leaves families in need to revert back to fast fashion as the cheapest and most convenient option. Meaning they get lower quality clothes for the price they could have paid at a charity shop for better quality clothes. This issue is ultimately contributing to the fast fashion issue anyway. Reselling old clothes is a great and environmentally friendly option until the prices end up higher than what they were bought initially. The people who needed these charity shops now can’t use them and sustainable quickly becomes unsustainable once again.

Charity shopping can be for everyone, and it can be exciting and enjoyable granted that it’s bought within reason. So, remember to think before you buy and be mindful!

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