Sustainability and Charity Shops

Image by annca from Pixabay

Shop in (and donate to) a charity shop for a sustainable world

Charity shops operate to the Triple Bottom Line. This consists of three Ps: profit, people and planet. It aims to measure the financial, social and environmental performance over a period of time. That means that charity shops make money for their charities to provide services but they also have huge environmental and social benefits.

Financial benefits

  • Money raised through charity shops goes to fund essential services in communities both here and abroad.
  • Providing services and support for some of the most marginalised people in society.
  • Go to Who we are to find out who our members support and the services they provide.
  • ICSA member charities employ over 500 people in their charity shop operations.

 Social benefits

  • Creating social employment for about 2,000 people though CE and TUS schemes.
  • Re-skilling, up-skilling and training opportunities for CE/TUS workers and volunteers.
  • Over 6,000 people volunteer in our charity shops nationwide.
  • Marginalised sectors of the community are given an opportunity to challenge and develop themselves through the inclusive nature of volunteering.
  • Significant social benefit to the wider community through the strong volunteering spirit in charity shops. 
  • Providing essential clothing to people who cannot afford to shop in mainstream retailers, buying a better brand or quality in the charity shop than they could afford new.

Environmental benefits

  • 11.5 million garments were sold through ICSA member charity shops in 2019.
  • Textiles, books, furniture and household items are reused and given another lease of life.
  • Nearly all of this is diverted from landfill.
  • Reduced consumption of new goods.
  • Reduced carbon emissions.
  • Conserving natural resources used in the manufacturing process e.g water, energy etc.

The Circular Economy

Short video on the circular economy in action. A good example set by Mud Jeans as featured here.

But what is the definition of the Circular Economy?

A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. Definition courtesy of

This means that we reduce, reuse, and recycle what we take and make, avoiding depleting more of our resources, replacing the linear “take, make, dispose” model.

For more information please click on 
Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy