Quality donations and our part in the clothing cycle


Before donated items are added to our online shop, they have already been through some rigorous decision-making processes by the donor: perhaps a donation was a once-cherished item that is now too small, or a fancy frock that feels too familiar.  

Deciding what stays and what goes can be tough, but ultimately pre-loved items deserve to find their way to a good home and not to landfill.  

Here’s what happens to the donations we receive at Devon Air Ambulance. 

How do we choose items that are suitable for the website? 

If you’ve ever taken a peep into the back of a charity shop you’ll probably have noticed heaps of bags stuffed with anything from t-shirts to musical instruments, and handbags to gladrags. 

Hardworking volunteers power through this new stock to divide them into items for our bricks and mortar shops and those for our website. How we select garments for our online store is determined by whether they are a silver or gold ticket item. Read more about how our website garments are chosen. 

Items for our donor shop 

If any donated items don’t meet our criteria for online sales, they can still raise essential funds for us through recycling. We have 19 charity shops across Devon and our staff are trained to identify what’s fit for selling and where it might sell best. 

There are some rules about what we can and can’t accept however. For example, if the care label has been cut out, even if the item is otherwise in good condition, unfortunately Government regulations mean we can’t sell it on. In this case we will sell the item as textile to be recycled. 

All other donations will be sorted into type: clothing, bric-a-brac, etc. and organised for sale either within the donor shop, or at one of our specialist shops or for online. We have a great many vintage treasures online that make wonderful discoveries for lovers of quality and quirk. 

Items that can immediately be recycled 

It’s not possible to sell on every donation we receive, but in this situation, we can still raise funds for the charity. We recycle textiles, shoes, books, media, bric-a-brac and other accessories and sell them on by the kilo to recycling organisations, such as  CTR  a recycling company that works with the charity sector. 

What happens to stock that isn't sold? 

Our donors choose to give Devon Air Ambulance their donations in the hopes of raising money for the charity, therefore we want to give their donations every possible chance of becoming someone else’s perfect purchase. Here’s the process an item goes through: 

  1. Our donor shop receives the item 
  2. The item is checked for quality 
  3. The brand is checked against our price guide to ensure the item is fairly and consistently priced. The relevant items are sent to our online store where they are steamed and prepared
  4. Items that are gift aided have a number attached to the tag 

What happens to items sold to the recycling company? 

If an item doesn’t sell in our Exmouth 321 shop, where everything is priced at £3, £2 or £1, then it will go to CTR which will pay us for recyclables by the kilo. The recycling company will take unsold stock by the container-load abroad to countries where there is a market for them. These are typically markets in the global south. 

We need your donations 

We work hard to extend the life of a pre-loved item as far as possible and not only do we care about raising funds for the charity in doing so, but we also want to minimise the environmental impact of donated goods. Charity shops play a huge part in keeping items out of landfill and increasing the chances of finding a buyer for them instead. 

Sales of preloved items are a significant source of income for the charity. But we would not be able to have such success with our sales without the support of our incredible volunteers and team who work hard to extend the lifespan of each item. 

Find your next favourite, preloved find online today. Don’t forget to tag us in your social posts #FoundAtDaat! 

 Neat stack of jeans. Credit to maude-frederique-lavoie

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published