The new wave of op shoppers, saving money, the planet and looking great!
Is it possible to connect people and planet with an op shop?
Can people save money, help the planet and still look great?
The thrill of second-hand shopping is like no other. For many, the magic of op-shopping lies in the histories untold behind each unique piece: who did that dress belong to, once upon a time? How many balls and parties has it seen? How many first kisses and broken hearts? For some, the appeal of saving some cash is a real topic and hey, there is no better place than an op-shop to pick up a bargain!
But is op shopping or using second hand clothing really part of the solution when we think about reducing our impact on the planet?
Buying preloved clothing absolutely improves the sustainability of clothing. Research shows that extending the average life of clothes by just three months of active use per item would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints. This impact continues through the life cycle of a piece of clothing.
Think: As well as having the environmental impact during its creation (i.e. the water to grow the cotton, waste created during fabric creation and dyeing processes, fabric waste during construction), post creation clothing continues to have an impact through transport, water use and how it is eventually discarded.
So yes, it is possible to save money, help the planet and still look great. It is one way you could become more sustainable and prevent that all your unused clothing will go to landfill.
One of our local Illawarra businesses is working on this topic with its new Green Connect Op-Shop in Bellambiand I had the pleasure of talking to Kylie Flament the General Manager of Green Connect. Green Connect is a not-for-profit social enterprise that employs young people and former refugees to grow fair food and reduce waste that would otherwise go to landfill.
Who is Kylie?
Kylie made the move to the beautiful South Coast in 2017 with 1 ½ children in tow J
While on maternity leave with her second child, Kylie still wanted to be busy and doing good in the community. Kylie had heard of Green Connect before and decided to take on a role as a board member of Our Community Project, excited that Green Connect was part of this organisation. To keep it short Kylie loved what she was doing and could help out even more and thus became Green Connect’s GM in 2018.
What makes Green Connect so special for Kylie?
Kylie brought it down to one point: The people make it special. No matter how much you love a job, no matter how hard a job is, Kylie is seeing the difference that they are making! Helping young people and former refugees to find work, to create jobs in an environmental repair social enterprise, to be able to pay people and let them build skills, experience and confidence makes it so special for Kylie.
“Yes, the problems we face today are huge but Green Connect is one way to make a difference.”
Why take on an op-shop?
Green Connect is always looking for ways to reduce waste. Their vision is a zero-waste world. Green Connect took over the op shop in April 2019 and since then some really amazing changes have come about.
Kylie would ideally love for the op shop to not send anything back to landfill, but unfortunately this isn’t quite possible yet. The ideal scenario would be a circular economy where nothing is going to waste. Upcycling and recycling play an important part in this cycle.
Anyone who has walked into the Green Connect op shop will perhaps feel that there is a difference. You can feel that people are changing their perception of how they look at what they spend, why they spend it and where they spend it. Green Connect will be raising more awareness as to what is happening with our communities and our environment.
So, what can I and what can You do?
Let’s inspire each other to change things in our personal life. Everyone is learning and it was beautiful to hear Kylie speak of the lessons she has been learning on her journey of becoming more aware to the needs of our planet and what each individual can do. “We can’t change everything at the same time, I had to learn to come to terms with this. But we can make small steps into the right direction. The way people get exposed to what is happening can happen in various ways, for some it is a documentary, for others its food, for others it’s the plastic pollution of our oceans… Once people become aware of the need of change, we need to encourage them to keep going.”
How does Kylie do this in her own life with two little kids in the family?
Kylie had a great example from one of her children’s recent birthday parties:
Instead of buying expensive, throwaway gifts, Kylie and her husband asked guests to bring 2 used books as presents (used books from home or if no books could be spared an op shop book was equally great).
Instead of a typical lolly bag the party guests were allowed to choose one book eachto take home. The remaining books were Kylie’s child’s birthday gift.
So yes, we can all encourage each other to come up and share ideas of how you and I are working on reducing waste, how we up/recycle or any other way of learning to look after our planet in a better way.
Finally, I asked Kylie what her 3 top topics for the op shopare at the moment:
To change how people view op shopping! If you’re thinking of buying something – why not think “Can I get this at an op shop or do I really have to buy it new?”
Make the op shop a community connection where people can feel at home, where they know heaps of people, where they come to do their work, share what they have learnt, where they can laugh together, eat and play together… After all we are all part of one race: the human race.
To open more Green Connect op shops
I want to thank Kylie for letting me interview her and share her passion about a zero-waste philosophy! I totally loved it and if you did too, then please share this article with your family, friends, workmates, on your socials… anywhere you like!
Let’s create some awareness!!!
Find out more about the op shop and what you can donate by clicking here.
Travel Tips and Op-Shop opening hours:
Sydneysiders and Canberrans wanted!
Why not make a wonderful trip to the South Coast! Grab a coffee, head to the op shop and be inspired by what’s on sale. Grab some lunch in one of the many beautiful locations up or down the coast, and relax at one of the amazing beaches or go onto a beautiful bushwalk along the escarpment!
If you can make a weekend out of it, or even stay a couple of days! It’s totally worth the trip!
Last but not least: Do you want to share with us how and what you are doing to up/recycle items in your life? Do you want to be a part of the Green Connect Community? Do you know charities that Green Connect should partner up with?
9.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday 10.00am-2.00pm Saturday
(02) 4207 9616
16 Bellambi Lane, Bellambi NSW 2518 (just over the tracks from Bunnings)
Thank you for reading this article! What are your thoughts?