All the way back in May, I was invited along to a super special event, one which was local to me which made it all the better – #Oxclusive with Oxfam. I was invited along with a plus one (Charley, of course!) to check out the Oxfam factory down near Leeds and find out how the charity works its donations. We made a bit of a day of it all, checking out some of the lingerie shops in Leeds first (blog research, I swear!), then hopping on a train over to the factory in Batley. We were a little concerned that we’d find ourselves spectacularly lost, but we managed to find our way after a brisk walk from the train station.
We arrived a little nervously at the factory, never having been to a similar event before, but were welcomed warmly, handed high vis jackets (which are always fun to wear!), then taken on a guided tour of the factory. At this point I have to admit that I was still feeling a little poorly from the flu I was still recovering from, so I handed the camera over to Charley while taking in the sights and sounds of a factory dealing with up to around 19,000 items of clothing per day, and around 9 to 12 tonnes of handbags and shoes weekly – crazy! It was definitely a fascinating experience to find out what really goes on behind the scenes after you’ve donated your clothes. Before visiting, I would have been more likely to try to sell my clothes before sending them off to charity because I assumed that anything not worthy of being taken to a local shop would probably get chucked away. But it turns out that they actually go to great pains to get every possible part of your donations reused, whether that’s sold on in one of their stores, listed in their online store or pulled to pieces so that the usable parts can be reused in mattress stuffing etc.
Garments that are received at the factory will be sorted into 25 different categories by expert eyes who do this very job all day long. The factory in Batley receives clothing that hasn’t sold in stores in the North of England, but not only will there be donations from regular people in there, they also take stock donated from big names such as M&S and Next. As you can see, the whole place was just filled with these massive bags just packed full of clothing, and none of it goes to waste or into landfill – it’s all used! Certain items will also be sent abroad where they’re sold in bulk so that locals can make a living selling them on – it’s all a big cycle!
What we found out on the day was absolutely fascinating and definitely made me think more about donating as frequently as I can. One thing I found really interesting was that in times of crisis, Oxfam receive a huge amount more donations than they usually would. They think it’s because not everyone has money to spare to give to charity, but most people have something they can give away – and every little helps. Interestingly, Oxfam don’t actually send any of the clothing they receive during these times to the places in crisis – it would be a logistical nightmare! Instead, they use the extra donations to raise money and focus their efforts on that place in crisis.
We didn’t just get to see the behind the scenes workings of the Oxfam sorting factory though – we also got treated to seeing their online shop area. Above is the 70s inspiration wall, a big bucket of garments we were allowed to dig through, a peek at some ties in the online shop section, just a couple of the many many rows of clothing for sale in the online shop, and the festival inspiration area. Oxfam also do stalls at many of the popular festivals, selling clothes to festival goers – and they had some fab pieces!
We were also treated to a fashion show put together using pieces from Oxfam’s online shop focusing on current trends including denim, paisley, 70s and more as you can see above. It’s obvious that it’s really easy to find on trend, fashionable pieces out what other people once thought was junk!
And before we left, we were also treated to the standard blogger event treat of cupcakes, as well as cup of tea – this was very much welcomed by me at this point considering my flu! We also spotted this awesome table on the way out in one of the factory’s meeting rooms – it’s made out of old video cases, how amazing is that?! Proving that really nothing goes to waste at Oxfam.