The 10 Best Second-Hand Shops Online in the UK

online charity shops, second hand shops, online thrift shops

Helloooo #SecondHandSeptember!

Oxfam kicked off this campaign in 2019 as a way to get us to slooowww down and promote shopping second hand, first.

The UK alone buys more than 2 tonnes of clothing per minute which is a completely unsustainable use (and waste) of the planet’s resources given that people are only wearing their clothes an average of 7 times before getting rid of them!

Given that fast fashion is responsible for a huge carbon footprint worldwide and poor working conditions worldwide we need to break up with fast fashion-fast.

Whether you are buying clothing, electronics, or books, we have a responsibility to make better, more sustainable choices for the planet and we can start with shopping for pre-loved items first.

The list below will give you 10 reliable places to purchase second-hand items for you, your family, and your home.

Some of the links may be affiliate links in which I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The Best Places to Shop Second-Hand Online in the UK

1. Oxfam

About the shop: Oxfam is a charity based organisation that has been around over 70 years. They have more than 500 stores throughout the UK as well as an amazing online shop. They are also the creators of #SecondHandSeptember in an effort to fight fast fashion and get consumers to slow down.

You can use the search filters to sort by size, colours, brands, price, and even decade, so finding what you want is easy!

What You’ll Find: Oxfam’s online shop is full of clothes for men, women, and children. You can find cashmere jumpers for as little as £7 or spend £70 and end up with a Burberry suit!

You’ll also find shoes, accessories, as well as books, music, and memorabilia!

2. Pre-Loved UK

About the shop: Preloved UK is an online buying and selling site where you can find just about anything from clothing to cars, pets to furniture. Anyone can place an ad or buy without paying, but if you get a membership (as low as £5 for the year) you get a few more perks like being able to add more photos or video to your ads as well as browsing without advertisements. There’s also rewards like discounts on new products and free gifts, too! What You’ll Find: At this virtual car boot, you will find clothes, furniture and other things for your home, children’s items, cars, caravans, gardening supplies, and so much more!

3. Micolet.co.uk

About the shop: Micolet is a second-hand clothing shop for women that upon first glance looks like a legit shop for buying new! All of the items are checked for quality before being added to the shop and they have a 14-day return policy if you aren’t happy with your items.

What You’ll Find: Micolet offers all women’s clothes from high street and premium brands as well as bags and accessories.

You can filter your search by size colour and even look for specific brands, making for an easy shopping experience. Shipping is only £0.88!

4. Vinted.com (also an App)

About the shop: Vinted is an online shop and app where you can buy (and sell) clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories for men, women, and children.

It’s easy to search by size, colour, brand, price and even the condition of the clothes (new with tags is an option)!

What You’ll Find: While there is an abundance of fast fashion brands, you will also find some quality items. I find the app easy to use and have purchased from Vinted several times now. I really like that you can find children’s fancy dress items; in fact, their kids range is pretty amazing and includes not only clothing, but baby gear, toys, books, furniture, and school supplies!!

slow fashion, second hand shops online, online charity shops

5. Depop.com (also an App)

About the shop: Depop is a huge online second-hand market that not only sells clothes, shoes and accessories for men and women but kids as well. The search function isn’t as easy (in my opinion) compared to Vinted, but it hasn’t stopped me from finding good buys.

What You’ll Find: Along with hundreds of thousands of clothing and shoe items for sale, you can also find sports equipment, books, music and films, and totally random items in the “other” section. It’s very easy to lose an hour shopping here.

online charity shops, second hand shopping online

6. Thrift+ (also an App)

About the shop: Thrift+ was established in 2014 to create an online charity shop that is as easy to use as ASOS. The shop sells generously donated, high-end items and at least a third of the sale goes to charities chosen by the donor.

Thrift+ does all the work, as in quality checks, photos, and listings, so you don’t have to be weary of shady sellers the way you might on Vinted or Depop.

What You’ll Find: Thrift+ is a great place to make a tight budget go farther as they carry, not only high street brands, but premium brands to at prices that are quite affordable for men and women. (I found an Alexander McQueen top for £33 and that included shipping). They even offer a 30-day return policy if you are unhappy with your purchase.

7. Vestiaire Collective (also an App)

About the shop: Vestiaire specialises in designer brand clothing, shoes and accessories. Items that are over £500 will be shipped to Vestiaire first so they can check the authenticity of the item, which gives you peace of mind when you’re spending that kind of money. They also allow you to return items within 72 hours of receiving the items if you have any problem.

What You’ll Find: High end everything! Besides clothes and shoes for men, women and even children, you will also find accessories, jewellry, watches, vintage items, home décor, and let’s not forget designer clothing for your pets!

8. Loopster.co.uk (children’s clothes)

About the shop: Loopster was founded as a way to buy, sell, and donate gently used (or unused) children’s clothing. With babies and kids growing so fast, often parents find their kids have massive wardrobes but can’t wea fast enough before growing to the next size!

Loopster gives parents an easy way to pass on those hardly worn items to those that can use them and, of course, the option to shop nice quality clothing by size and gender without the unpredictability of a charity shop. (They have clothes for mum, too)!

If you want to sell, you send your clothes in a bag Loopster sends you, they will then check the quality of the clothes and pay you for them. Anything that doesn’t make the cut can either be sent back to you or donated to TRAID, an organisation with projects to stop child and forced labour, provide education for children and garment workers, and to drive transparency in the textile supply chain.

What You’ll Find: Hundreds of children clothing items from brands like Next, Gap, Dolce & Gabbana and Stella McCartney. The items are checked by Loopster so the quality will be nearly new.

9. AwesomeBooks.com

About the Shop: Fabulous online, used bookstore that offers free delivery to the UK and global shipping, too! You can search by title, author, ISBN number, or have a nosy by genre or browsing the bargain bin.

What You’ll Find: Just about any book you want to read including rare and collectable books as well as CDs, DVDs, and games for various platforms including PC and Mac games.

For every book you purchase through the site, they will also donate a book to schools worldwide. Since 2019, they’ve donated over 100,000 books! A sustainable company worth buying from.

10. WorldofBooks.com

About the shop: Amazing, online, used bookstore that works just like an online store for used books. They are a certified B Corporation and specifically address the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

World of Books get many of their books by purchasing them from charity shops that can’t sell them. This means charity shops still earn money from the donations and World of Books keeps millions of books from going to landfill. They have donated thousands of books to UK primary schools and have pledged to donate a million more by 2020.

The site is easy to shop as you can search by title and author and you will also find rare books, music, and DVDs. Shipping is free in the UK.

(If you aren’t ready to make a purchase you can even create a wishlist…mine is crazy long)!

What You’ll Find: Almost any book you can think of! Fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books are all here! You can find music on CDs and Vinyl as well as DVDs and Blu-Rays of popular films and lots of Disney!

The Other (Sort of Best) Place to Shop Second-Hand Online

Facebook Market Place.

I have such a love/hate relationship with Facebook.

I hate the time sucking vampire that it is, but I love the marketplace. You can join local buy and sell groups and easily sell your own items as well as buy items local that you can pick up the same day.

(It also helps when you can see a name and photo of who you are buying from).

Facebook doesn’t offer any protections or return/refund policies for the transactions, so if you are buying something big, like I bought a double jogging pram, use PayPal instead of a bank transfer or cash.

You use the part of the app for sending money to a non-friend or family member for a small fee. (Mine was £7 on a £240 purchase). If you are having an item shipped the fee protects you from any shady sellers that may send damaged items or fail to send them at all.

If you need to get rid of something quick, listing it free will likely have someone picking it up within the hour!

Pre Loved. Save the Planet and Your Pocketbook

Hopefully, you now have the confidence and desire to go forth and shop second-hand. It’s so easy to do and in many cases you are directly helping a person or a charity instead of a big corporation. (Not to mention helping the planet).

Do you know of any other online, pre loved shops? Let me know your faves in the comments below.

Where to Get Eco Friendly School Supplies in the UK

eco friendly school supplies uk, sustainable school supplies uk

As a teacher shopping for school supplies was one of the highlights of the school year. I loved wandering the aisles of coloured crayons, pencils, notebooks, and organisers galore!

But now when I wander the shops, I see endless plastic wrap and cheap plastic and glittery items that now make me cringe.

I bought new things every year, despite having old things that would have worked just fine.

I used the same books every year and no one noticed or complained. And by the end of the first month, the new crayons looked like the old ones.

So why did I, feel the need to buy new every year? How can we stop the unsustainable consumerism with our school supplies?

Let’s look at ways we can make the Back to School season more sustainable.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. Other links may also be affiliate links where I earn a small fee on qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. See full disclosures below.

Start With What You Have

Did you do any spring cleaning and find you had loads of pens, pencils, or crayons, etc. lying around?

Go through and check for the ones that work and group them into piles of school supplies for your kids. For the pens, markers, and highlighters, etc. that don’t work anymore, click here to learn where you can recycle them.

Do you have a pile of USB sticks not being used? Clear them off and you have fresh sticks ready for the new school year.

Old t-shirts and any other unused fabric lying around are perfect for sewing together a cute pencil case or a crayon pouch for crayons that no longer have a box.

Reuse items that are in good condition. Things like book bags, gym bags or backpacks, lunch boxes and water bottles, maths tools and calculators can all be used again year after year or passed on to siblings when they are taken care of.

Keep your supplies from ending up lost by using these dishwasher-proof sticker labels.

Shop Second Hand

Book bags, gym bags, backpacks are items that are easy to find second hand. Scouring some online apps even let you filter out items by brand, price and condition. Your child can still have something “new” and different for the year without spending a fortune.

Check out my favourite second-hand apps for more ideas.

Textbooks, dictionaries and thesauruses are also widely available at second-hand bookstores to use at home and will help save some trees in the process.

Even expensive items like scientific calculators for high school students can be found second-hand. Just be sure to check with the maths teacher to make sure it has all the required features before you buy.

Have a Uniform Swap

Get together with other parents and swap uniforms. Get the sizes you need and send nothing to landfill.

Items that are too worn or stained can be cut up and easily made into headbands and hair scrunchies that match the uniforms.

If there are still uniforms left over, donate them to the PTA to either give away through the school or turn them into decorations for school events.

If you have the means and need to buy new consider buying GOTS certified, organic cotton uniforms from EcoOutfitters. Their uniforms have a lower carbon footprint and are better for children’s sensitive skin since it won’t be full of as many chemicals and pesticides.

Being cotton, the material will also allow your child’s skin to breathe and help prevent skin rashes or exacerbating skin conditions like eczema.

The even use coconut shells for buttons!

Even better? Since they are GOTS certified you can rest assured that their supply chain is also paid fairly. (No fast fashion, here!)

Does your child need to wear a mask? Grab a child-sized, reusable mask in a pattern that they love. Make sure to grab one with a filter pocket and filters to give your child maximum protection.

child sized face masks uk

Embrace Reusables

Feeding kids at school has the potential to create a lot of waste. We tend to pack things that are easy and perhaps, individually packaged which more often than not is plastic.

Reduce that waste by using a reusable lunch box and even beyond that and use reusable containers for lunch items.

Instead of a zip top bag of fruit, use a small container. Bento boxes are fantastic for keeping food separate while avoiding having multiple containers in your child’s lunch box. Snacks can be stored in small plastic or bamboo food containers. Ideally, use what you have first. If you don’t have anything, then alternatives like bamboo, wax wraps and silicone bags are great options.

(When used over and over, and not as single-use, plastic containers will last forever and are lightweight, which is ideal for little ones to carry around).

Reusable water bottles are also important. Aside from reducing waste, your child will also be drinking less plastic than if she were to have her own bottle with tap water.

Use these dishwasher-proof sticker labels, so lost items can be returned to their owner.

A cloth napkin makes clean up easy for your child, too.

Handkerchiefs are a great alternative to tissue packets as well and can be embroidered with initials, so they don’t get as lost!

Shop Ethically and Eco Friendly When You Do Need Something New

Some things just don’t last long enough to be used year after year, like pencils. But as with anything if you have the means to make more eco-friendly choices then here’s what to look for.

FSC Certification

Tree-based products should have an FSC Logo of some kind on it. The FSC is a global, non-profit organisation that leads sustainable forest management. They make sure that companies are not only sustainably managing forests based on applicable laws and treaties, they also ensure that companies maintain or improve the social and economic positions of their workers. They also “identify and uphold Indigenous Peoples’ legal and customary rights of ownership, use and management of land, territories and resources affected by management activities.”

PEFC Certification

Tree-based products could have a PEFC certification which is similar to FSC but just a different organisation. PEFC uses the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals to ensure that the forests are sustainably harvested and their workers are fairly compensated.

Recycled Materials

While finding products made from wood as an alternative is possible, there is a chance maybe plastic is the better option for reasons ranging from price to weight. When possible look for products that are made from recycled materials.

Reusable and Refillable

Many items like pens and markers can be purchased with the options to refill them instead of recycling them and getting new ones every time they run out of ink. There could be a little more up front cost, but the refills are usually cheaper and will use less plastic.

Lifetime Guarantees and Closed Loop Systems

Items that have lifetime guarantees or multi-year warranties are likely to be of high quality or else they wouldn’t guarantee them. In the same line, some companies are starting to offer repair services or offer detailed advice on caring for and repairing their products yourself. The message in either case is to buy something that will last and repair it before replacing.

Eco-Friendly School Supply List

Pencils

Sprout Pencils – Sprout Pencils are so cool. You get a lead-free sustainably sourced pencil that contains seeds! Every time a tree is harvested to make pencils, another is planted in it’s place. When you wear the pencil down to nub status you flip it over and plant it. The pencils are labelled with the seeds to they act as a marker in your garden as well! There are 9 different seeds available that are either flowers, herbs, or vegetables. A little more expensive than other options but you also get plants in the end and not waste. If not for regular school supplies, these would make a lovely gift along with an eco-friendly journal or sketchbook.

Pandoo Pencils– Pandoo pencils are pretty neat in that they aren’t even made out of wood! Well they are, but in the form of recycled newspapers. The company’s goal is to reduce deforestation worldwide so these are a great choice for the planet. The pencils are in recycled cardboard packaging and they also offer carbon neutral shipping on all their products. The price point is totally reasonable and a great sustainable choice to start the school year.

Pilot Progrex Mechanical Pencil– Why even recommend a plastic pencil?! Because I know that as our kids get older carrying around multiple pencils and a sharpener can be seen as a pain, so if you are going to go with a plastic mechanical pencil, may it as well be a better one. If you take care of it it will last forever and all you will ever need are the lead refills.

sustainable school supplies UK

Coloured Pencils

Panadoo– Yes! The same makers from above that make pencils out of newspaper also make coloured pencils from newspaper!

Lyra – These coloured pencils are great for older kids. They are PEFC certified cedar wood in colours inspired by nature. They even come in a metal tin that can be reused for years to come!

Eco friendly school supplies uk

Highlighters

Faber-Castell– These fabulous highlighter crayons come in lovely colours and use water-based paint colours. You pay a little more than some competitors but if you are highlighting on thin paper like bible verses, you want something soft that won’t bleed through. These are it! Be sure to grab a larger sharpener as these won’t fit in a standard one.

Faber-Castell– Faber-Castell also make wooden pencil highlighters. The wood is FSC certified and are also good for highlighting on thin bible paper.

sustainable school supplies, eco friendly school supplies

Beechwood Clutch Highlighter Marker– If you prefer an ink-based highlighter these beechwood ones are not only sustainably sourced but they offer a pack of 6 refills by request so you don’t have to ever buy another highlighter, making this a great sustainable option.

sustainable school supplies, eco friendly school supplies

Rubbers

Lyra – The India rubber (aka natural rubber made from plant latex) erasers are in two colours one side for pencil and the other for pen (though I am sceptical at how well it works). They are a good choice when looking for something not made from synthetic materials.

eco friendly school supplies UK, sustainable school supplies uk

Glue and Adhesives

Bostik Blu Tack– When crafting or hanging items, sticky tack is the way to go. It is reusable and because it’s a temporary fix, the papers or craft items have a better chance of being recyclable once they have served their purpose.

Eco Glue– This glue is a starch-based adhesive with no nasty chemicals. It’s refillable, washable and biodegradable, too.

eco friendly school supplies uk

Coccoina Jumbo Glue Stick – This glue stick is potato starch-based and smells like Marzipan so it may be wise not to let little ones use it! It contains no nasty chemicals or palm oil and is made in an environmentally conscious factory in Italy.

eco friendly school supplies uk

Scissors

Left or Right handed scissors– These scissors are stainless steel with a blunt tip making them safer for younger kids. If you have a sharpener, these scissors can easily last forever, but if they don’t since they are 100% stainless steel, they are 100% recyclable making them a more sustainable choice than mixed material scissors.

Already have scissors? Grab a scissor sharpener and have them cutting like new again. Save yourself from having to ever purchase another pair.

eco friendly school supplies uk

Tape

Paper Tape– This plastic free tape works just like sticky tape, but is made from kraft paper and a natural rubber-based adhesive. The tape can be recycled or composted. This is great tape for wrapping those brown-papered packages, tied up with string, too! (Go on, sing it.)

eco friendly school supplies uk

Washi Tape– Washi tape is super fun, colourful tape made from natural fibres like bamboo or hemp. The tape is durable and fun for decorating art projects and upcycles.

Recycled Paper Notebooks

Recycled Rhino Pad A4– Not only is this pad made from 100% recycled materials, you are helping to save Rhinos when you make a purchase. The paper is good quality and ink doesn’t bleed through to the other side.

5 Pack Recycled A4 notebooks– the paper is 100% recycled paper and (most likely bleached) bright white. The 5 pack is convenient. The pages are perforated and as long as you remove the metal spine and recycle it separately, recycling the is easy, too.

Maths Sets

Aluminium Alloy Ruler Set– This aluminium set of maths tools is a more eco-friendly and more durable set than plastic equivalents. The measuring tools can easily last forever, but being aluminium can be recycled indefinitely in case they don’t.

Professional compass– I would invest separately in a nice compass. This one is completely made of metal and comes with spare screws and lead refills. If for some reason it doesn’t last, it can be easily recycled.

Solar Powered Calculators

Casio FX-85 GTX– From what I’ve seen the 83gtx is often recommended and rightly so as it’s extremely affordable, but if you have the means or can source this one second hand, the 85 is just like the 83, but solar powered.

Stapler

I mean a staple-less stapler.

Staple-free stapler– This staple is lightweight and small enough to keep in your bag. It can staple up to 5 sheets of paper. What is so nice is the fact that there are no staples to buy or refill. And when it comes time to recycle or shred the papers, no staples to remove first! Easy!

Backpacks, Book Bags, and Gym Bags, Oh My!

If you can not find a second-hand bag that meets your needs, then consider purchasing a bag that will last a lifetime. The bags below go beyond just lugging books around and make great day trip and weekend packs, or carry-ons for holidays. (I did see a brand new Fjall Raven with tags for £50 on Depop, so still check preloved, first!)

Fjall Raven are pricey for good reason. Quality. The bags are meant to last a lifetime and depending on which model you buy; you are also supporting the Arctic Fox population.

Kipling backpacks have been around for ages and their backpacks all come with a two year warranty where they will repair or replace the bag if there are any defects. They come in fun patterns and colours and they also have wheelie backpack options.

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bags not only come from a sustainable company but the bags themselves are made from 100% recycled materials. The small 40L is good not only for hauling gym kit to and from school, it is perfect as a carry on for most airlines and great for a weekend bag, too!

Tentree is originally a vegan clothing company but have expanded into bags! Their bags are made from 100% REPREVE which is a recycled nylon fabric made of water bottles! The bags are especially nice as they tend to lay flatter than other bags which is helpful on buses and trains. For every product you purchase, they plant 10 trees, too.

Pencil Cases

If you don’t have the time or materials to upcycle your own pencil cases, then sourcing a handmade one is the next best thing. You can easily get your pencil case personalised and you’ll be supporting a small business. Etsy also uses carbon neutral shipping.

Lunch Boxes/Bento Boxes

Chances are your kids may already have a reusable lunch bag or box, but if you are still putting their food in disposable bags consider grabbing reusable bento box containers. The bento boxes come in handy on road trips and plane rides, too!

Reusable Sandwich Bags and Containers

An insulated flask is great for sending your kids to school with a hot meal during the winter. Warm it at home, pack it up and your child will have something still warm by dinner time.

Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags– If your kid is like me and enjoys sandwiches, reusable sandwich bags are the way to go. They are lightweight and washable which is important especially for younger kids.

Cloth Napkins

If you are going to use reusables everywhere else, you may as well include a cloth napkin. This does not have to be fancy. Cut squares from old t-shirts and you can use that as a napkin, but in case you were overzealous with spring cleaning and already donated your old t-shirts than you can grab a ready-made one from Etsy.

Handkerchiefs

Reduce waste especially during cold season and hayfever season by switching to a cloth handkerchief. As long as they are folded and put into a pocket or a pouch they are just as sanitary as a disposable. (Remembering to wash your hands after in either case!) They are much gentler on your nose, too.

Ready to Shop?

Now that you are armed with all the ways you can make more sustainable choices with your school supplies, grab your list and get going!

The first day will be here before you know it!

Do you have any other tips for finding sustainable school supplies? Did I forget anything? Let me know in the comments below.