Our Shops

We're Royal Trinity Hospice, London's answer to sustainable fashion.

We think our charity shops are some of the best around. Come and visit us soon!

On 17 February 2022, a few members of the Retail Team visited Royal Trinity Hospice’s partner textile recycling merchant, East London Textiles (ELT). The trip was very insightful and helped give a clearer picture of what happens to the clothing that Trinity shops are unable to sell. Here’s what they learned…

Large collection bins full of donated clothes being sorted by volunteers

  • When unsellable clothing (what we call rag) is collected from a Trinity shop by an ELT driver, it is first taken to their central warehouse in Essex. From there, it undergoes a three-phase sorting process to separate it into specific categories according to item type and quality.  Being a sorter as well as a collector, ELT aims to ensure that clothing goes where it is needed and will be reused, therefore minimising textile waste. 

  • Every week, ELT collects over 200 tonnes of used clothing from charity retailers across the south of the UK, plus an additional 100 tonnes in bric-a-brac and other non-fashion items. 

  • All usable and wearable items are sorted into the categories requested by their international buyers, such as ‘Women’s silk blouses’, ‘Round-neck T-shirts’, and ‘Boys’ pants.’  Nothing is sold back into UK markets, with the majority being shipped to Africa and Eastern Europe. Climate is considered when deciding where garments will be sent. Winter coats and other heavy clothing items are separated in the initial sort and sent to Eastern Europe.

  • The textiles are then vacuum packed and labelled with the package weight, category type, and buyer’s name, before being loaded into a shipping container and sent to their destination.

  • Any clothing and textiles that are heavily soiled or unusable go to recycling for fibres, usually in Pakistan, to produce such items as carpet underlays and mop heads. 

Piles of vacuum packed pre-sorted clothes in a warehouse

If you want to know more about recycling or where rag goes then you can contact our Retail team at [email protected].