Upcycling, Rags and Animal Shelters: How You Can Help Overwhelmed Charity Shops


Recently, many charity shops have been forced to turn away donations due to the huge influx of contributions following lockdown clear-outs. The Sunday Times reported that the British Heart Foundation in St Ives saw a 197% rise in donations and The Guardian noted there are 67 million items of clothing waiting to be donated.

GivingAssistant.org also found that searches for ‘charity shops near me open today’ have increased by 450% in the past 30 days! Keen to give a helping hand,GivingAssistant.org provided insight on some alternative solutions for donors if their local charity shops are overfilled!


1.    Upcycling 

Upcycling is currently a huge trend with thousands of tutorials readily available, explaining how to alter your dad’s old t-shirt into a trendy two-piece. It’s especially popular on TikTok where the hashtag has attracted 3.4 billion views! This creative alternative is the process of transforming old, unwanted clothes into new products of a greater quality.

Some great examples of upcycling are as follows:

Old jeans into a distressed denim skirt: Why spend one day’s wage on a brand new ‘distressed’ skirt, when you can make one for yourself in minutes? Grab an old pair of mom jeans, cut them to the desired length, remove the centre seams at the back and take in any loose fabric on the sides. Once you have created the perfect fit, secure everything together by resewing any undone seams – you can even leave the ends unhemmed for an extra distressed look!

An old t-shirt into a trendy crop top: Firstly, cut the neckline into a V-neck and crop the bottom of the t-shirt to the desired length. After this, simply lettuce hem the neckline and bottom edge. Once you have created a lettuce hem, add elastic to the bottom edge and both sleeves. Finally, add a small scrunch in the front to create a finished look!

These are only two of the many ways you can upcycle clothes – there are hundreds of alternative options easily available.


2. Rags

Turning unwanted clothes into dust and cleaning rags is one of the easiest ways to recycle – not to mention you’re saving money too!

Simply lay the clothing flat and cut off any sleeves or straps. Once the extremities have been removed, cut the item into the ideal size for your cloth – 12×12 inches works well for most. For a more durable rag, hem the edges and double up on fabric. Not only will you have a cloth for all occasions, but you’ll also have your own one-of-a-kind rag to show off!


3. Donate to animal shelters

Some animal shelters are paired with local charity shops (for example RSPCA, Dogs Trust and Foal Farm), so it is possible to send your clothes their way if they aren’t overstocked.

However, many animal shelters take second-hand items. Most animal shelters specifically ask for products like dog beds, old pet toys and animal coats, although there are others who are open to home-made donations.

It is possible to upcycle your old clothes into cat jumpers, rope toys and dog beds! For example, you can simply cut an old t-shirt into strips and braid them together, tightly tying the ends together and trimming any loose ends to create a pet-friendly toy.


4. Resell online

One of the best ways to get your worth out of clothes is by reselling them online, using websites like Depop and eBay. Experts at SaveonEnergy.com/uk provided their top tips on selling clothes and accessories online:

Offer discounts: Try to offer a discount or deals as 94% of female shoppers rarely buy clothing that isn’t on sale.

Take great photos: Make pictures as clear and detailed as possible. A picture with you in the clothes, so potential buyers can get a feel for how it looks on the body, is ideal.

Get social: To get ahead of the curve, make sure your social channels are up-to-date and relevant. After all, almost 40% of shoppers say social media is the main inspiration for purchases!

What’s trending? In short, “young” designer labels can make you the most money. Think Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Tory Burch.

Honesty is the best policy: Unforeseen faults will make you an unreliable seller and you could risk losing your account due to disgruntled customers. Be candid about wear and tear.

Sell activewearGym and sportswear is one of the fastest growing categories of clothing, due to the growing demand for fashionable fitness attire. Don’t overlook it!

Upload items at the right time: Most second-hand shoppers are night owls that shop between 9pm and 10pm, according to research.


5. Hand-me-downs

Sending out a quick Facebook post can go a long way, whether it’s to your friends or a local group near you! With thousands of ‘buy and sell’ groups across the country, there is certain to be one in your area. Uploading an image with the unwanted items alongside a brief description is likely to evoke some interest – especially if it’s listed for free. This is the perfect alternative to donating when a charity shop is overwhelmed, as you’re getting involved in the community and giving a helping hand to those who need it.


6. High street donation schemes

High street stores such as H&M and Levi’s take part in garment collective programmes which prevent customers’ unwanted clothes from going to landfill. Each outlet is different, but they usually accept unwanted clothes by any brand, in any condition, at any of their stores. This is also a great way to clear out as in most stores you can receive a shopping voucher or discount as an incentive! For example, H&M provide £5 off every £25 spent in the shop each time you donate clothes to their programme.


We hope that these tips from Givingassistant.org will provide some inspiration for Brits to become more eco-friendly and decrease the burden on charity shops right now.


Credit Image: Shutterstock – I Wei Huang