Choose to Reuse: our top tips for reducing single use plastic consumption

Choose to Reuse: our top tips for reducing single use plastic consumption

The war on single use plastic is a global problem, with an estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ending up in our oceans each year and killing over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals. It’s predicted that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight.

At Oxfam, we choose to reuse. We’re not just referring to second-hand fashion and books – our Sourced by Oxfam reusables range includes ethical and sustainable items such as bamboo lunchboxes, reusable coffee cups, beeswax wraps, water bottles, tote bags and more. We’ve put together our top tips on how you can make a difference – let’s help save our oceans from single use plastics AND help to end poverty worldwide at the same time.

1. Use a reusable shopping tote bag

It’s shocking, but a plastic bag can take up to 500 years to decompose. Since the 5p charge for plastic bags came in to force in England in 2015, our use of plastic bags has dropped by approximately 80%. However, we can still do more to reduce this figure! We have a range of beautiful tote bags online starting from just £5.99.

2. Carry a water bottle with you

Each year 7.7 billion plastic bottles are purchased across the UK, and many of those will end up in landfill. With apps such as Refill you can easily find local businesses that will fill up your water bottle for free, not only meaning you can help to reduce plastic consumption, but you can save money as well!

3. Use a reusable coffee cup

2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK – enough to stretch around the world roughly five and a half times! Unfortunately, less than 1 in 400 of these are recycled. You can help make a difference by taking a reusable cup with you every time you purchase a hot drink, and lots of coffee shops will give you a discount for using your own cup too!

4. Cover leftovers with beeswax wraps

Cling film is hard to recycle, and each year in the UK we use more than 1.2 billion metres! Beeswax wraps are a wonderful alternative, not only are they 100% natural but they are also totally compostable.


5. Make your own lunch

Many food on the go products are packaged in single use plastic, that are quickly discarded and aren’t recycled. Our range of lunchboxes are made of biodegradable, sustainable bamboo. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world – it only takes a year to grow back after it’s been harvested and doesn’t need much water or any fertilisers to make it grow and thrive.


Did you know we sell products made from recycled saris?

It’s amazing what a recycled sari can be turned in to – we stock jewellery, bags, scarves, bunting and throws all made from preloved silk saris. We source these items from a range of suppliers in India, who work with uneducated and disadvantaged women providing them with valuable skills and work. Check out our beautiful range online now!


Our reusable items are very popular and sometimes sell out online whilst we wait for more stock to come in! If this happens check your local Oxfam shop to see if they have what you are looking for, or follow us on Instagram where we will announce when items are back in stock online.

Bananas Beat Poverty

Bananas Beat Poverty

Behind this china mug lies an amazing story that starts with Oxfam’s work to beat poverty in Zambia, takes in a charity for talented artists living with learning and physical difficulties in Surrey and ends as a Sourced by Oxfam product range.


Browse the Sourced By Oxfam range and you’re likely to find a rather beautiful china mug depicting two women standing in front of a water pump. Both women and the pump are real – in fact the design on the mug is based on a mobile phone snap of them (below) taken in 2017, when they met Gemma Winstone, who works in Trading.

When Gemma took the photo, she had no idea that it would lead to a new banana-themed range of products in UK shops. She was on an exposure tour (trips that give a few Oxfam GB staff each year the chance to see our global programmes) visiting projects including a women’s banana project in Zambia, a country where 60% of the population lives in poverty.

“The women’s banana project was the most inspiring to me,” says Gemma. “You could see a whole story.”

Part of her inspiration came from talking to Teresa, the woman on the left in the picture. Oxfam had provided the solar powered water pump so she and her fellow farmers no longer had to risk their lives collecting water from the river.

Another farmer Gemma met, Irene, told Gemma how her mother had died in a crocodile attack collecting water for crops. Oxfam also provided electric fencing to keep dangerous elephants out and trained the women in growing and selling the bananas.

Before the project, Teresa and the others struggled to feed their children. Now they can give them plenty of food and pay for their education. Some have even earned enough money to build their own houses.

“I went to Arthouse Unlimited and showed them lots of pictures for inspiration of the women in their beautiful outfits and of the bananas in different stages. And then they started to draw.”

The artists plunged into the challenge with gusto – and their lively drawings were combined into the artwork.

Idah, a member of the Kabwadu women's club (Banana project), holds products designed by ArtHouse Meath about the Kabwadu women's club in Chirundu district, Zambia.


Oxfam Zambia Banana Products


‘It’s incredible to know that the story of those women in the banana project is being shared in shops – through beautiful products’ – Gemma

The sales of the products are feeding back into Oxfam’s programmes – like the banana project – around the world.



Browse other products designed by ARTHOUSE Unlimited artists


The Essential Festival Checklist – from our festival team

The Essential Festival Checklist – from our festival team

Get packing right for this festival season. You don’t want to carry too much but don’t forget your essentials.


The weather can be so unpredictable, and so you have to be prepared for gale force winds and torrential downpours, to mini heat waves and anything in-between.

The Oxfam Festival Shop Team have compiled a comprehensive packing list of everything you should bring, and a guide for your ultimate festival look. Shop festival style at Oxfam Online Shop.

The essential festival packing list:


  • Tent, sleeping bag, roll mat or air bed – these are the most essential of the essentials, no explanation needed!
  • Wellies or some sort of waterproof shoes – invest in a good pair!
  • A reusable water bottle – most festivals now have water fountains where you can refill.
  • Layers – relating to the above, it will get cold! Packing layers is the best way to ensure you’re covered for all weathers. They’re easy to add and take away as needed.
  • Clothes – Don’t pack too many as remember, you have to carry it! But some essentials include leggings, warm socks, a hoody or thick jumper, a hat, a day dress and a pair of shorts
  • A waterproof – one that’s actually waterproof too!
  • A blanket – again for those cold nights. Oxfam has plenty of pretty hand-knitted nana blankets for sale
  • A torch
  • Sun tan lotion
  • Toilet roll
  • Dry shampoo – washing hair definitely becomes a luxury at festivals
  • A day bag/ bum bag – use a reusable bag to carry your stuff around, ever better if from recycled material
  • Food/ drink – dried food is the best as you can just add water. We also recommend lots of cereal bars for daytime snacking and UHT milk for those much needed teas and coffees
  • Hand sanitiser – a great way to feel a little cleaner amongst those muddy fields


The festival style list:

For all those extras you need to add a little glam to your outfit – after all, the festival season is the ultimate time for trend spotting and trend setting!

  • Tropical print shirts – adds some sunshine to any outfit
  • A printed kimono – lots of patterns available from Oxfam and they act as the perfect cover-up from the sun or if it’s a little chilly!
  • Chunky necklaces – layer a couple of these for a bold statement look. They’re also a great way of adding festival style to plain tops or dresses
  • Flower garlands – add to hats, wear as necklaces, wrap around the wrist or make a statement hairpiece, we love every type!
  • Customised leather jacket– leather jackets are one of our biggest sellers and not only are they practical, they’re very stylish if matched with a chunky knit jumper, shorts and a summer hat – See our DIY guide on how to customised yours with a slogan

Oxfam Festival Shop is appearing at many festivals this year including Bearded Theory, Download, Glastonbury, Latitude, Kendal Calling, Womad, BoomTown, Boardmasters & Leeds Fest (phew, we are a busy bunch!) and so be sure to stop by to see the range of stylish clothes and accessories we have on offer. There’s definitely something for everyone – and every item helps people beat poverty around the world.

You can also buy second hand clothes for Men and Women on Oxfam Online Shop.



Happy packing everyone and see you in the field!

Amy Taylor (Festival Social Media Intern)


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