Léan Brady, newly appointed manager at Vincent’s at Bridge Street in Cavan Town

Squaring conscience with consumption in fashion

Many of us vowed that once lockdown ended we’d clear the clutter and begin shopping more sustainably. One local store is leading the way in promoting the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Vincent’s on Bridge Street in Cavan Town have, since reopening, launched their ‘Fashion’s Environmental Impact’ concept to encourage shoppers to change their buying habits by giving “a new lease of life” to pre-worn garments.

They don’t just draw the line there, as the shop is also trying to find new homes for pre-loved books, DVDs, games, toys, household items and all manner of bric-a-brac, so long as it retains its saleable quality.

“We accept donations and are able to sell pretty much everything so long as it doesn’t have a plug, or the likes of safety equipment such as helmets and car seats,” explains newly appointed Vincent’s shop manager, Léan Brady.

Ms Brady informs that over 100 billion garments are manufactured globally each year, with more than 70% of that ending up in landfill or incineration. Almost three-quarters of the clothing thrown out incorporates non-biodegradable fibres such as polyester, which requires 70 million barrels of oil annually to make.

The environmental cost of producing one single t-shirt in terms of CO2 meanwhile is an astonishing 2.6kgs, the equivalent of driving your car for more than 25kms. It also requires 2,730 litres of water and can take up to 200 years to decompose when dumped.

Nationally, Vincent’s receive over 14,000 tonnes of pre-loved textiles a year, which are sorted for sale and then distributed across its network of 230 shops in Ireland.

It seems the Vincent’s three R’s message is getting through. In just the first few days of reopening, the Vincent’s team in Cavan Town welcomed an “astounding” in-take of new donations reveals Ms Brady, who suggests charity shops play a vital role in inspiring a love of sustainable fashion within the mainstream.

“People have been really generous,” says Ms Brady, who took over the running of the store last year. “I especially think it makes a big difference for people that they know, and can see as well, how the donations they make translate directly into having a really positive influence in the lives of vulnerable people living locally.”

She adds: “The greater the number of people that see the benefits and buy into this circular economy concept and shop vintage, the bigger the impact we can all have on climate change.”

The movement towards a more ethical approach to fashion has other benefits too.

Ms Brady recalls how one customer was delighted to pick up a refurbished locker that now sits pride of place in their hallway. The cost? Less than the price of a round of coffees between a few friends.

Ms Brady correctly observes how shops like Vincent’s are the perfect place for the canny fashion flirts to find unique items to wear or adorn their homes.

“Keep an eye out, and call in regularly,” she advises. “It really is incredible what people sometimes find. We love it when someone comes up to the till delighted having found a dress or shirt, that book they’d lost on holiday, or a scarf or handbag to complete an outfit. It really makes our day.”

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