I LOVE charity shops. I think they’re great because:
- They’re green – I have so many lovely 2nd hand clothes which I use for work, many of which are high end brands that I wouldn’t otherwise have bought. I’ve not needed to buy clothes from conventional clothes shops for over a year 🙂 Clothes require energy to make (which means CO2 emissions) and plenty of water (to grow crops e.g. cotton, and to process in the factory).
- They’re ethical – the profit (or surplus, as it is known in the charity sphere) is going to a good cause. Since the vast majority of clothes are made in sweatshops, being able to boycott clothes shops is important to me.
- They helps the community, providing volunteering opportunities for locals.
I can personally relate to the third point. Volunteering at a charity shop helped me to get my internship at an environmental charity (which I loved, but it sadly ended – my aim is to get back in the sustainability sector though!). These are the skills that I honed during whilst volunteering at a charity shop:
- Training and supervising younger volunteers – the charity shop that I volunteer at is understaffed so younger volunteers don’t always get the guidance they need to contribute to the shop’s operational activities, which is a shame.
- Organised and hosted a fundraising event (managed to raise £366 in one evening)
- Interacting with customers
- Recruiting volunteers
- Educating volunteers/ customers about the charity’s work
- Perhaps more mundane, yet essential day-to-day tasks such as sorting donations (deciding what can be sold, and at what price), ensuring that the shop floor looks good and ensuring that the back room of the shop is kept tidy and organised – these areas require personal initiative and innovation
I genuinely enjoy helping out because I know I add ‘business value’ to use business speak. I feel that I contribute positively and help the shop make more money when I’m there, and help support other volunteers to get the most out of their opportunity. It’s a very empowering experience, I recommend it!