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Behind The Scenes at Oxfam Festival Shop Wastesaver

Posted by Kate Harvey Festivals Marketing and Engagement Assistant

11th Jul 2017

Batley Wastesaver

Amazing news from our Oxfam Shops team! A record breaking Glastonbury - well done to everyone involved.

So, we've heard what the team think of the music and we know what the shops look like on site, now I think it's time to see how the awesome Oxfam Festival Shops start up. We were lucky enough to get a BTS tour of Batley Wastesaver Recycling Plant and see where all the wonderful festival clothes come from.

On my induction at the Oxford office, I was told I would be leaving for Batley. At first, I thought it was simply a mispronunciation of "Botley"- a 15 minute drive away. However, when I returned home and learnt that "Batley" was in fact a real place (great work from a Geography graduate), I was a little shocked to discover it was 173 miles away on the outskirts of Leeds.

We started our three hour journey up North. When we arrived, we were met by the Bristol Team members and the ten of us gathered outside the huge warehouse, with the familiar green Oxfam font towering above us, "GIVE > RESELL > REUSE > RECYCLE".

Ben showed us inside and supplied us with some très chic fluorescent jackets - a very strong look for Spring/Summer 2017. It was amazing in there - rails upon rails, shelves upon shelves! Definitely the most items of clothing I had ever seen in one place. The stock for the online store was all immaculately ordered and in its place. We met Fran and and embarked on our tour of the enormous warehouse.

As we walked through the sprawling depot, we saw so many different things. Mood-boards showing the different styles associated with the different festivals, sorting boxes and bags filled with various garments, a whole section for wedding dresses, split into different styles throughout the decades, and of course, one could not forget the piles of poor dismembered mannequins.

A real point of interest were the Sorting Lines. Fran explained how items made their way along the conveyer belt to be then sorted by the amazing Batley team, categorizing the items in to different sacks and large boxes. Additionally, a selection of items were gathered up in to "bales", like a hay bale, but made out of clothes and sent to Frip Ethique in Senegal. These huge walls of material were very striking; it could have been mistaken for a modern art installation and certainly wouldn't have looked out of place at the Tate.

 As our tour continued, we met some very creative customizers. They were working on leather and denim jackets, adding fun new designs to the material, ready to be sent off for us to see at the festival shops. This brings us to the show piece of the tour...the festival shop section. Ben and Fran informed us on how those working on the Sorting Lines also sort items that are suitable for selected festivals. Sacks and boxes piled high with black, studded, leather items for Download, colourful creations for Bestival, the waviest of wavey garms for Leeds and glittery, sequin-filled boxes set for Shambala.

Batley Wastesaver

The team and I would like to say a huge "thank you!" to Fran and Ben for their wonderful tour. As well as seeing the majority of the UK on our journeys up to Batley, we saw so many different and interesting things going on in the warehouse. It was a great experience to see another branch of Oxfam's work and to have a sneak peek at the stock that will be up for sale at the festivals.

Blog post written by Kate Harvey

Festivals Marketing and Engagement Assistant

More by Kate Harvey

Kate Harvey