Sustainable Shopping for Students

Amber Pettit tells us how we can shop conscientiously with our student loans:

For me, one of the challenges I faced going to university as a mature student was — wait for it — not the shock of going back to study, but, curbing my clothes shopping addiction. The major shock was trying to adjust from living off a full monthly wage to living off a student loan. This meant that I no longer had the assurance of a monthly wage that I could spend freely, without the worry of when the next student loan payment was coming in. However, with my significant reduction in income I have looked for new ways to shop for clothes in a more sustainable way and to save or make money off the clothes I already owned. Here are some of the ways I have gone about doing this:

  1. I recently discovered that H&M have a scheme where you can donate any textiles to be recycled and receive a voucher in return. These textiles can be anything from old odd socks to towels all you need to do is take a bag of material to the checkout desk and in return they will give you a voucher for £5 off your next purchase over £25.

    The vouchers themselves are handed out per bag not per whole donation so you could, like me, turn up with several small bags of material and receive more vouchers. So far, I have emptied a whole sock draw old tea towels and cushion covers. H&M then send the material to the nearest recycling plant where they are sorted “Textiles the cannot be reused get a new chance as textile fibres or are used to manufacture products such as damping and insulating materials for the auto industry.” Also, Fat Face offer a similar scheme where you can donate old fabrics to be recycled however unlike H&M you do not receive any vouchers for your donation. So, for me, its a no-brainer and I donate to H&M.

    Amber is holding some clothing vouchers from H and M
    My H and M vouchers
  2. For items of clothing I did not want to donate I set up a stall at a car boot sale to sell them. It did mean that I had to wake up at 5:30 am for a couple of Saturdays in a row but it was worth it in the end! The car boot sale I chose to sell my things at was Monksfield Car Boot Sale which is on the outskirts of Malvern and only a 15-20-minute drive from St Johns. There are also some car boot sales in Worcester if that’s easier for you. The entry fee for car boot sellers there is around £8 so you could get a couple of friends together and set up a stall together to save money. My tip is that if you are a seller you need to get there early as it gets busy really quickly. Also, this gives you a good chance of getting first dibs on any bargains the other seller’s stalls.

    A group of people are walking down a path at a car boot sale. The sun is shining and there are lots of stalls with different items on for sale.
    Car boot sales offer a chance to make some money from your unwanted clothes
  3. Over the past month I have been seeing the #SecondHandSeptember all over Instagram with various celebrity’s such as Paloma Faith and Aisling Bea showing off their latest charity shop buys. Oxfam’s campaign for #SecondHandSeptember aims to encourage people to shop sustainably rather than buying ‘fast-fashion.’ According to Oxfam “Every week 11 million items of clothing end up in landfill. Throwaway fast-fashion fashion is putting increasing pressure on our planet and its people – it’s unsustainable.” So luckily in Worcester we are in no shortage of Charity shops with the majority situated on Mealcheapen Street and along the Tything.

    The Oxfam Second Hand September Logo

    It is worth noting that the British Red Cross shop along the Tything sells all items of clothing for £1.99. If you are looking for an occasion dress or outfit for a wedding your best bet is going upstairs in the St Richards Hospice charity shop on Mealcheapen Street where you can buy donated Wedding dresses, Bridesmaid’s dresses and Prom Dresses.

    Hope you have enjoyed the blog and gained some new tips on how to shop more sustainably and how to make money from your old and unwanted clothes.