Retail therapy with a conscience at Milton Keynes Swap Shop

I discovered Milton Keynes Swap Shop a few weeks ago, and to say I was excited would be an understatement.

Having frequented Worth the Weight vintage kilo sale and Willen Hospice Fill a Bag events a few times, and a loyal charity shop customer, I’d say I’m all for a good old fashion reboot.

It’s great to see that with similar events cropping up around the country, sustainable fashion is hast becoming a thing. I reckon environmentally conscious millennials and Gen Z have a lot to do with that. And with the increasing attention on climate change, it’s only in the last few years that the spotlight has really turned to the damage fast fashion is causing the environment.

For example, did you know that the emissions from new clothes bought in the UK each month are greater than those from flying a plane around the world 900 times?

And that every year an estimated 300,000 worth £140million tonnes of used clothing goes into landfill in just the UK?

Scary stuff.

As a generally loud and proud Generation X member, a Xennial at best, there are moments that make me hang my head in shame when I look back at my generation’s shopping habits of just a few years ago. We never thought much of a shopping spree on the high street back at the turn of the millennium and with the advent of internet shopping, most of us have horror stories of splashing out online, after a booze-fuelled night or a nasty break-up. Retail was our therapy and our cardio all rolled into one.

It’s only in the last few years, especially with the rise of Marie Kondo style decluttering that I’ve begun shopping with intention. After a major clear-out at the beginning of the year which saw bin bags of almost brand new clothing head to the charity shops or friends, I have been quite intentional while shopping for clothes. A few questions I ask myself when I pick up an item in store or see it online are: Do I really need it? Is it essential? Do I have anything similar already in my wardrobe? Does it spark joy? (Thank you, Ms. Kondo!)

The aftermath of the clear-out has meant I’ve still got a big utility bag of clothing that’s too hard to sell online but too nice to donate to charity so the idea of giving away five items and paying an entry fee of just £3 which would in return get me five #newtome items at the Milton Keynes Swap Shop sounded like a no brainer. So off we headed, my friend Fiz and I, over to Nonna’s at Woburn Sands on Friday night.

The event was scheduled to start at 7.30 pm and by the time we arrived at 7.45, the place was already packed with women queueing up to swap pre-loved clothing with a 5-items token. We made our way into the showroom in under 10 minutes and started rummaging through the rails. With the entry fee so affordable, and donating a bunch of clothes you know you’ll not be missing, the whole experience feels a bit like shopping for free.

Within minutes Fiz scored a pair of white Chucks and a long-sleeved neon top. I had my eyes on a Warehouse dress while grabbing pair of red cotton culottes from Marks and Spencer. The whole experience is a bit of pot luck as there are no changing cubicles – understandably or, knowing us women, else we would be there for the rest of the evening trying on everything we like the look of. This is technically what I did anyway in a quiet corner, at least trying on some of the tops and dresses on top of my own clothes.

The good thing is that if you are not too sure of your lot, you can always grab a drink – at £5 the cocktails or Prosecco were a treat – and give it half an hour or so for new items to be placed on the rack and go back for another rummage – or five!

My only gripe with the event is, while the social media pages clearly state the items must be nearly new, with no rips or stains, there were a few items that fell short of these standards. The aforementioned Warehouse dress I had my eyes on was, unfortunately, one of these, looking quite well-worn and weathered.

Eventually, we both managed to find five items we were more or less happy with. With a couple I wasn’t sure of, I was still happy to take them home knowing that if they didn’t fit well or didn’t spark joy (Yes, quoting Kondo again), I could always bring them as my swap items to the next event.

As for the ones I’m keeping, stay tuned as you’ll soon get to see a few here on the blog.

Speaking of the next event, if you’re based in MK, give Milton Keynes Swap Shop a follow on their Facebook and Instagram to find out when their next event is.

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