^ Recent charity shop purchases; my wardrobe, full of second-hand goodies :)
- Go to more up-market areas - this is where you will find higher quality goodies
- Support a particular charity or your local shop, or shop around to find a charity shop with the best selection
- charity shops have got a little more trendy recently, and some have hiked up their prices. Good for the charity, so if you're feeling generous go for it, but personally, I wouldn't spend more than £10 on a posh dress, and for basic things such as jeans or a nice second hand top, I'd stick to the pound rail unless for something really special! If something has been sitting there for weeks, you may be able to get it at a discounted price, and if an item is out of season (e.g. you buy a jumper when it's summer) it's more likely to be cheaper, too. Don't be afraid to shop out of season!
- it helps if you're a creative, quirky dresser who can see potential in seemingly redundant pieces. Think about combining and layering different things. If you're good at sewing etc, look for interesting fabrics - even if you don't like the item as it is, you might be able to transform it into something else.
- don't discard an item if it has a stain or a rip - it could be easily fixed by you or a crafty friend. In my experience even things that say "dry clean only" can be washed successfully at a low temperature or by hand
- don't donate disgusting items. Volunteers don't want to trawl through smelly, sweaty, cigarette-stinking, stained, grubby clothes, and nobody wants to buy these either. Wash everything first, and if something is a little too far gone, check that they have a rag bin, or go to your local dump and see if they have one there.
- share clothes and other items between friends, neighbours and family. In this way we've been lucky enough to get a greenhouse, potential duck-pond, bins to keep animal feed in, furniture, clothing, books, etc.
- keep a look out also for interesting jewellery and accessories, as well as furniture, knitting needles, books, DVD's etc...especially titles that are now out of print
- try Freecycle, swapshops, car boot sales, and sharing/hiring shops etc. too! (particularly good for furniture, tools, plant seeds etc)
- also - USE YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY for books, DVD's, even toys and games, and for finding leaflets about days out, local producers and events, and courses. My one even showcases the work of local artists and jewellery designers.
If you can't find what you want second hand, or want something special, then there are still loads of places you can go. Look at local producers' cooperatives, and sites such as eBay and Etsy. Supporting smaller and local producers is still a valid option, and many smaller companies still have better eco-credentials than high-street brands. I like Etsy for jewellery, and eBay is good for everything. Recently Dad bought an old stainless steel basin which we will turn into a solar wax extractor, and we even bought a whole greenhouse once. Look for unusual options too. We buy old blue mango chutney barrels for £10 each and convert these into vessels for growing veg and producing compost. And don't forget that you can learn to make and re-use different items for yourself - learn to knit, make your own furniture or propagate your own plants from a friend or one of the many professionals and teachers out there who are happy to share their knowledge.