Members of a new County Durham charity shop association recently posed for pictures wearing entirely donated clothes.

The members – who were raising awareness of the environmental benefits of second-hand clothes and upcycling – all looked very smart as they smiled for the cameras.

The newly formed County Durham Charity Shop Forum will coordinate charitable giving and encourage the public to donate their unwanted clothes, textiles and footwear.

The forum includes Durham County Council and representatives of 12 charities, such as Age UK, Oxfam, Barnado’s, Scope, the British Red Cross and MIND.

At the launch of the project, the members were clad from top-to-toe in donated shoes, clothes and accessories – making the point that you can conserve the earth’s resources and still look super-stylish.

The manufacturing, transport and storage processes of the garment industry can cause pollution and use significant amounts of energy, thereby contributing to global warming and other environmental problems. What is worse, many clothes bought in the UK are never even worn.

Durham County Council’s external project officer for waste and recycling, Ruth Smith, said, “We wanted to encourage clothes recycling by showing how all of the items we are wearing are appealing, smart and completely reusable.”

“On average, 30% of clothing inside people’ wardrobes has never been worn and seven percent of items placed in County Durham rubbish bins are clothes and textiles which could have been donated for reuse.”

image courtesy of allispossible.org.uk, from Flickr Creative Commons
Almost a third of the UK’s clothes have never been worn, but could be donated. (image courtesy of allispossible.org.uk, from Flickr Creative Commons)

County Durham Charity Shop Forum will now be involved in a number of projects, such as displaying upcycled artwork from students at New College Durham in shop windows.

Upcycling involves refurbishing and improving discarded items so they can be used for new purposes.

The forum will also highlight the valuable work done by charity shops in local communities and encourage more people to donate and volunteer.

The retail manager of Age UK, County Durham, Michael Bartley, said, “Age UK is thrilled to be part of the County Durham Charity Shop Forum to help raise awareness about clothes and textiles reuse and recycling.”

“On average, each charity shop reuses 40 tonnes of items in a year.”

“Funds help sustain local charities, as well as providing local people on low incomes with a source of affordable clothing – especially children’s clothing, which needs renewing more often due to growth and wear and tear.”

All charity shops rely on donations and volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering can pop into their local charity shop and ask for details.

For more information about County Durham Charity Shop Forum or environmental issues in general, please visit www.durham.gov.uk/clothesrecycling or email wasteaware@durham.gov.uk.

(The featured image shows members of the County Durham Charity Shop Forum in their donated clothes.)

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