Oxfam shops and the Oxfam Online Shop aspire to be a driving force in sustainability, continually improving our ethical and environmental impact.

Our Retail Ethical and Environmental Strategy

Oxfam's Ethical and Environmental Strategy for retail sets out our aspiration to be a driving force in the area of sustainability, continually improving our ethical and environmental impact.

Oxfam GB’s Retail Ethical and Environmental Strategy includes 5 objectives and includes key targets around waste, energy, and our Sourced by Oxfam range.

The Strategy Objectives are:

  1. Integrate policies and values into how we do business.
  2. Continually improve ethical and environmental management eg waste and energy
  3. Seek out opportunities for innovation eg closed loop
  4. Support Sourced by Oxfam to becoming leaders in sustainable shopping
  5. Maximise income opportunities which arise from consumer interest in sustainable shopping

Progress on targets is included in our annual report and supplementary Ethical and Environmental Report.

How is Oxfam tackling the issue of clothes waste?

UK consumers send 336,000 tonnes of clothing to landfills per year.

According to WRAP, unused clothes in wardrobes are worth £30 billion. And some £140 million worth of used but still wearable clothing goes into landfill each year.

Oxfam encourages people to make the most out of their old clothes by reusing, selling, or recycling them. By doing so, they are not only working with us to generate funds to end poverty but also helping protect the planet by reducing clothing waste.

It’s an imperfect and complicated system and we are doing what we can to make improvements which reduce the potential impacts of this unsold stock on people and planet.

Our aim is always to find other ways of processing unsold clothes to enable people and protect the planet while honouring our commercial responsibility to the donors of the clothes.

How does Oxfam work with others to improve in the garment sector?

Oxfam is a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, an organisation of Companies, Trade Unions and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO)’s who work together to improve human rights in global supply chains.

We are also actively engaged in initiatives aimed at promoting more sustainable and circular approaches to clothing in the UK fashion and textile industry, such as the Textiles 2030 initiative.

The Oxfam Business Advisory Service (OBAS) also provides companies advice and tools to support the implementation of ethical practices

Does buying second hand clothes help create a more sustainable fashion industry?

Choosing second hand contributes to a sustainable fashion industry that doesn’t cost the earth.

  • Producing new clothes increases water waste by 20% and carbon emissions by 4%
  • 336,000 tonnes of clothes going to landfill every year in the UK
  • Only 1% of recycled clothes are turned into new garments

Wearing second hand clothing encourages reusing and recycling, saving our planet from harmful emissions and reducing reliance on raw materials.

By shopping more consciously, consumers can show that they want a more sustainable fashion industry.

Where does money Oxfam raises from second hand clothes go?

Money that Oxfam raises through the sale of second hand clothes helps to fund Oxfam’s work tackling the injustices that fuel poverty around the world.

This includes supporting communities hardest hit by the climate crisis.

These funds enable Oxfam to work with partners and communities around the world to…

  • Respond fast when emergencies hit, supporting people to uphold their rights and be resilient to future crises.
  • Speak up against the injustices that fuel poverty and inequality, such as undervaluing and mistreating informal workers like those in fashion supply chains.
  • Support activists around the world fighting the injustice of climate change.
  • Campaign for sustainable economic policies that can halt rising temperatures, promote fair trade, and create an economy that encourages people to make conscious choices by opting for second-hand clothes over fast fashion.

Lasting change starts small

  • £25 could help Oxfam’s local partners provide climate-resistant crops like cassava stems, and training that supports smallholder farmers.
  • £50 could help provide farming tools and essentials farmers need to cultivate land and crops and begin to feed whole communities.
  • £100 could support a small grant to enable farming businesses to grow and diversify, enabling communities to have a secure source of food for years to come.