The Millennium Falcon and an Armani dress

A Lego Millennium Falcon, a red Armani dress and a family organiser are all items I’ve bought recently in charity shops.

IMG_2364

Charity shops are a British thing; the first modern-style charity shop was set up by Oxfam in 1948 to raise money for the organisation’s relief work in post-war Greece and is still trading at 17 Broad Street, Oxford (in fact, I’ve been there!). Charity shops in the UK raise £270m each year for charitable causes: my recent purchases have funded:

  • palliative care
  • support for people who are homeless
  • services for people with a learning disability
  • emergency and development work for some of the world’s poorest communities
  • animal welfare
  • support for pregnancy-related challenges, including post-natal depression.

I sought advice from the Journey to Zero Waste UK Facebook group about how to buy clothes in charity shops. The hive’s tips included:

  • shop without Small Boy and Little Miss – ha!
  • go frequently
  • check the material labels
  • try on
  • choose a base colour and then look for items in that colour or that co-ordinate well

I also asked my mum, who is always picking up great items, for her charity shop tips. She asks herself the following questions:

  • Does it appeal to me?
  • Is it a good fit?
  • Is it a good name?
  • Do I need it?
  • Is it under £10? (I have set myself a limit of £5 for clothes)

I’ve had some successes: 

  • An apron for Little Miss (which both Small Boy and I thought would be good for when she is a little bit bigger and able to join in with our baking).
  • Tops from Phrase Eight and John Lewis, and some dresses from Next for work.
  • A kite – every family needs a kite!
  • A Lego Millennium Falcon and Lego race car (Small Boy is getting into Lego and had previously said he wanted a spaceship).
  • Little Red Train books which were on my wishlist for Small Boy.
  • There have been several times when I’ve chosen not to buy something and I’ve not regretted this.

I’ve purchased some new items (bought in goods sold for profit), such as birthday cards and a 2018 family organiser – items I would have bought anyway.

IMG_2355

And some mistakes:

  • A wool cardigan that is too itchy to wear.
  • A £3.25 Armani dress which is too small but I’m optimistically keeping it.
  • A race car – Small Boy said he wanted it and I said yes in a moment of weakness and stress but in reality it’s just a large piece of ugly plastic junk.

What have I learnt?

  • It’s so much easier when I can go on my own. It also means I can buy items for Small Boy which can be given as bribes presents.
  • It’s really hard not being a consumer. I like buying and having new things!
  • If I don’t have time to try something on, then stick with sizes and brands that I know.
  • Most shops take cards (and some even do contactless) but there are still one or two which only take cash.
  • Shopping in charity shops is a lot of fun!

Further reading

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/knickers-models-own – Caroline Jones wore a different pre-loved outfit (all from Cancer Research shops) for an entire year proving you can be frugal and fashionable.

Further Adventures in Just Living: Fashion Revolution and Plastic Oceans

Do Something is the third and final section of the Who Made My Clothes course so here is my Fashion Revolution Pledge.

  1. Ask Who Made My Clothes? i.e. contact brands and ask them about their supply chains
  2. Buy fewer new clothes and purchase what I need not what I want. I have a ‘rest day’ coming up soon so am planning to peruse some of the local charity shops.
  3. Buy from ethical and fair trade brands. I have just found Monkee Genes and am looking forward to buying some – next time I need jeans!
  4. Sign petitions, such as this one from Labour Behind the Label, and email policy makers
  5. Spread the Fashion Revolution message (that’s what this blog is about!) Look at the easy-to-read Fashion Revolution white paper, follow them on Facebook and get involved with Fashion Revolution Day in 2018.

blue-jeans-2227534_1920

July was Plastic Free July. Hopefully you read an article in the press or on social media about the problem with plastic, particularly single use plastic. If you want to find out more, have a look at the Plastic Oceans Foundation’s website.

Or you can watch this episode of Octonauts featuring pelicans and plastic debris as Small Boy and I did this morning!

beverage-cups-2147903_1920

I’m making simple changes:

  • Saying no to plastic bags
  • Not buying bottled water
  • Switching to reusable sanitary protection – feel free to ask me if you want to know more about Mooncups and cloth sanitary pads!
  • Using a deodorant bar

Today a friend has given me some reusable nappies to try with Little Miss and I’ve ordered solid shampoo and conditioner. Hopefully, these will be successful!

 

With love from Radhamma

 


To: dido.pilgrim@gmail.com

From: radhamma@imakeyourclothes.in

Hi Dido

Thank you so much for the invitation to Little Miss’s birthday party. I can’t believe that she is going to be one already! It’s wonderful that she is going to be wearing the dress I made. I’m absolutely thrilled that you loved it. You’re right – blue denim and pink is such a winning combination.

IMG_1675

This dress is 100% cotton and made in India. It’s very likely that it was made at the Best Corporation, one of Mothercare’s leading suppliers. The Best Corporation is situated in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu – a region in South India which is well-known for garment production. 

I’m so sorry I can’t make it but I will be working. But don’t panic! It’s not forced overtime anymore. Things have really changed since the Flawed Fabrics report came out. Life is much better.

The Flawed Fabrics report was published in October 2014 (when Small Boy was nine months old) and highlights human rights violations faced by the young women and girls working in the factories and mills in Tamil Nadu. 

In Flawed Fabrics, Best Corporation workers are recorded as saying that: 

  • They were forced to work overtime.
  • They worked more than 60 hours per week.
  • There were not enough toilet breaks. 

However, Best was the only factory investigated where workers were occasionally allowed to leave the grounds. 

I’m just doing some overtime to earn a bit more money to send back to the village for my parents.

The young women and girls who are recruited to work in the garment sector in Tamil Nadu are usually from impoverished rural villages whose families desperately need the extra income and one less mouth to feed. 

You’re so lucky having your family close by. I miss mine so much but at least I can call them on my mobile for a chat.

Flawed Fabrics states that in many of the factories and mills, the young women and girls (the workers are mainly female and the supervisors male) were not permitted to use mobile phones and could only telephone agreed phone numbers. Best employees were the only workers who were allowed to have mobiles. 

Children grow so quickly, don’t they? It won’t be long until that dress is too small for her! I wonder what you’ll buy next?

I wish Little Miss a very happy birthday.

With love from Radhamma

beautiful-girl-1309025_1920

PS: It’s going to be my birthday soon too. I will be 18.

A more recent report (2016), Forced Labour in the Textile and Garment Sector in Tamil Nadu, South India: Strategies for Redress by Dr Annie Delaney and Dr Tim Connor,  states that in 2012 the Tirupur People’s Forum estimated that the majority of the female workforce were younger than 18 years old with many less than 14.


Hi Radhamma

Thank you so much for your email. I’m glad that life has improved recently. To be honest, it’s been hard to find out what your working and living conditions are actually like. I’d like to see your factory and hostel for myself.

According to the Forced Labour report, human rights violations still exist in the Tamil Nadu garment industry.

I’d like to visit you, to meet you face-to-face and to say thank you for all the clothes you have made for Small Boy and Little Miss over the last three and a half years: the everyday vests, the tiny sleepsuits that were worn for what felt like five minutes and the special occasion clothes, such as the denim giraffe dress that I knew I just had to buy as soon as I saw it.

clothes-line-2205055

I hope that conditions have genuinely improved since Flawed Fabrics was published. I’m pleased to read that Mothercare now release an anti-slavery statement and earlier this year sent out a Responsible Sourcing Handbook to all suppliers.

I’m reassured by their new factory assessments programme:

‘The assessments include initial factory reviews on proposed factories and follow up visits with active factories.

‘The top issues identified were excessive working hours, too many consecutive working days, issues over minimum wages or overtime payments and health and safety issues. In these instances an appropriate corrective action plan was put in place and active factories received a follow up visit and on going support.’

It’s good to read that Mothercare’s suppliers in ‘vertically owned supplier mills’ have agreed to only hire workers who are 18 or older.

It does look as if conditions are changing for you and I hope they continue to do so.

Love, Dido x