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Fashion Relief: Lorraine Keane shines a light on the Rohingya crisis

Next month, throngs of people will descend on Galway and Dublin for our third annual Fashion Relief events. Some will be there for the day out, others to bag a bargain. Yet whatever their reason for attending, everyone will be doing their bit for vulnerable people experiencing climate change, conflict and hunger.

More than 700,000 people fled Myanmar when violence broke out in 2017, pushing the number of refugees in Bangladesh to almost 1 million. They arrived in the country suffering from both physical and psychological injuries, traumatised by the atrocities they had witnessed as they fled.

cox's bazar rohingya refugee camp
Views of the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam

Lorraine Keane recently travelled to Bangladesh to see how the funds raised are helping those who need it most. Among those she met was Rohingya refugee and mother-of-four Naila, whose husband was shot as they fled their home in Myanmar.

Naila, who was pregnant with her fifth child at the time, also witnessed her 14-year-old son being killed before the family escaped across the border. Like countless others, Naila and her children ended up in Cox’s Bazar – the world’s largest refugee camp.

rohingya refugee at her shelter
Naila at her shelter in Cox's Bazar. Photo: Jeannie O'Brien

Diseases spread quickly through the flimsy shelters in the overcrowded camps of Cox’s Bazar, where the population density is four times the UN’s recommended levels. Respiratory infections, diarrhoea and malaria are rife, with children particularly vulnerable.

influencer trip to refugee crisis
Lorraine Keane at Kutupalong Camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Jeannie O'Brien

Meanwhile, more than a third of women say they don't feel safe going to collect water or using toilets and showers. As a result, they go to the toilet less or end up going to the toilet inside their tents, putting themselves at risk of disease.

Worryingly, there are also reports of women and girls being forced into sex to earn money to survive, and adolescent girls marrying due to their parents’ inability to feed them.

What Oxfam is doing to help the Rohingya people

We’re providing vital aid including clean water and food to Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. So far, we’ve helped 360,000 people in Bangladesh, while we’re also supporting 100,000 Rohingya in Myanmar with clean water and sanitation services.

In addition, we’re helping people stay healthy by installing water points, toilets and showers, and distributing soap and other essentials. We’ve recruited more than 600 Rohingya volunteers to help us reach other refugees with hygiene information, we’ve built the biggest-ever sewage plant in a refugee camp on site and our solar-powered water network provides safe water more effectively.

Meanwhile, we’ve provided 25,000 refugee households with vouchers that can be exchanged at local markets for fresh vegetables and ingredients. We’ve hired over 1,800 Bangladeshi locals to work on local construction projects including road repairs, schools and water sources and provided almost 400 local people with grants to start or expand their small businesses.

To help women feel safer after dark, we’ve installed more than 350 solar-powered streetlights around the camp and provided 20,000 torches and portable solar lanterns. We’ve also worked with women refugees to design more secure toilets and supplied them with fabric and vouchers so they can make or order clothes they feel more comfortable wearing in public.

Fashion Relief at Cox's Bazar | Oxfam Ireland

Fashion Relief 2020: BIGGER AND BETTER

Awaken your inner sustainable shopper by joining us at this year’s Fashion Relief! You can bag a bargain from your favourite brand, boutique, designer or celeb and the best bit is you’ll be raising vital funds for our work in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Sustainable Fashion Event

2020 Dates

Sunday 1st March - Galmont Hotel Galway

Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th March - RDS Dublin

Don't miss your chance to:

  • Have fun!
  • Bag new, pre-loved designer and high-quality clothing from celebrities, Irish designers, top retailers, and more
  • Enjoy fashion shows, highlighting unique items from designers, boutiques and the stars
  • Get fashion advice and tips from leading Irish stylists and social influencers on the day
  • Grab yourself unbelievable bargains
  • Raise much-needed funds for people affected by poverty and disaster

 

Even if you’ve already got your ticket, there are lots of other ways to get involved!

Volunteer

Become part of the action by volunteering at the events! You could even staff your own stall, joining some of the stars who have generously pledged their clothes and time. You can volunteer for just one shift or an entire event!

Donate Your Pre-Loved Clothes and Accessories

  1. Bag up any pre-loved or new clothes, accessories or handbags – just make sure they’re in good condition and ready for the sale rail.
  2. Clearly label the bag/box FASHION RELIEF.
  3. Drop the bag/box to the nearest Oxfam Ireland shop. Find out where at oxfamireland.org/shops

 

Or you can organise a workplace clothing collection (men’s and women’s clothes and accessories) and Oxfam Ireland will pick it up directly from you - no hassle! Contact IRL-fashionrelief@oxfam.org.

More Info

Product Recall

The items pictured have been recalled. If purchased from an Oxfam shop, please contact the relevant store for more information, including on how to return and avail of a full refund. Sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused

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Sustainable shopper? It's all in the jeans

You can always trust Oxfam to have bags of sustainable Christmas gift ideas – and this year is no different!

We recently teamed up with sustainable fashion brand Titanic Denim which creates stylish, hand-crafted bags made from recycled jeans.

ethical upcycled bag
The iPad-size cross-body bag (€25/£20) is perfect for everyday essentials.

It’s all part of our mission to tackle throwaway fashion and the impact it’s having on people and the planet. Right now, the fashion industry emits more carbon dioxide emissions than the shipping and aviation industries combined!

This new partnership will see a limited range of Titanic Denim on sale in selected Oxfam shops across the island of Ireland.

Each bag is 100% unique and suitable for all ages. The linings of the bags are made of recycled clothes while the straps breathe new life into end-of-line seatbelts!

handmade unique bags

Titanic Denim is the brainchild of Marie Nancarrow who says that “the medium-sized ‘City Bag’ (€35/£30) is perfect for shopping while the smaller, iPad-crossed body bag (€25/£20), is ideal for everyday essentials – or just as an eye-catching fashion accessory”.

Each designer bag is made with love and comes stamped with a seal of sustainability in the form of the Titanic Denim logo and Oxfam’s ‘4 Good’ branding.

“It has been amazing to work in partnership with Oxfam on this project because we are jointly passionate about reducing the environmental impact of waste going to landfill here in Ireland,” says Marie.

“I hope Oxfam’s customers will love these bags just as much as Titanic Denim has enjoyed making them and not just for the good they do but as a must-have fashion accessory in their own right. The bags are ethical, practical and stylish and make the perfect ‘Christmas with a conscience’ gift for those who want to give something different to a loved one.”

Oxfam and Titanic Denim - A greener planet from blue jeans

Check out our shops in Belfast (Oxfam Botanic and CastleCourt 4Good); Cork; Dublin (George’s Street, Talbot Street and Malahide); Galway; Kilkenny, and Sligo!

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Your essential guide for a sustainable Christmas

As we approach the end of 2019, let’s look forward to a more thoughtful, more sustainable Christmas. It might just help usher in a better new year for more people around the world.

Water, food, trees, and zero waste wrapping paper

With Christmas just a few weeks away, you might be wondering if you’ve got the energy for the festive season.

But if one thing can keep us going, it’s that this year has seen powerful climate action like never before – and that’s crucial for the poorest people of the world who are paying the biggest price for the climate crisis.

We believe everyone can join together to build a greener, more sustainable future for all of us. The people of Garu, a district in northern Ghana, show that it’s possible.

There are typically only two seasons in Garu – the dry season and the rainy season. Climate change has meant that, over the years, the dry seasons have become drier and the rainy seasons have become more unpredictable. It has led to bad harvests and rising hunger – with families sometimes surviving on just one bowl of maize a day.

But now, green, lush fields of crops are growing thanks to new farming techniques, solar-powered water systems, and community-run savings and loans schemes that fund tools, ploughing cattle, and fertilisers.

Woman with child and water

These communities are living inspirations to celebrate Christmas a little differently this year.  Last Christmas, the average Christmas spend by an Irish household rose 3 percent to a staggering estimated €2,690 (1). As an estimated 62 percent of people in Ireland have already started their Christmas shopping (2) – imagine the potentially massive amount of waste that will come from unwanted items, plastic and paper packaging, fast fashion, air travel and more.

With more thought and less waste, small actions like choosing Fairtrade and sustainable food, buying ethically sourced and second-hand gifts or cutting down on waste and making the most of leftovers can all make a big difference, and your local Oxfam shop is a great place to start.

However you do Christmas this year, we hope you’ll celebrate with us. Do it a little differently, and let’s welcome a brighter new year for everyone.

We’ve made a different type of Christmas to-do list to help you get started...

1. The (good) food shop

Fairtrade swaps

Swapping your usual chocolates, teas, coffees and sugar for Fairtrade options is a really easy way to help farmers affected by climate change earn a fair and decent living. Not only that – you can find some amazing luxury Fairtrade treats that make fabulous presents.

Our shops have a whole range of Fairtrade festive food that’ll go down deliciously well with the family.

Sustainable chocolates

Seasons eatings

If you’re a Christmas dinner traditionalist, you’re already on to a climate-friendly winner – because sprouts, parsnips, and carrots are all in season and can be locally grown. So, well done you!

If you dread the usual suspects, have no fear – squash, kale, beetroot and cabbage are all in season for December as well.

Delicious sustainable vegetables

2. Festive Christmas trees

Buying your tree

Overall, real trees are climate-friendly because they do a good job of capturing carbon from the atmosphere while they’re growing.

To make sure yours has been grown sustainably, look out for the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) label. If you can buy a small pot-grown tree, or one with a root ball, you might even be able to replant it for next year. If you can, buying one locally grown will further reduce your carbon footprint.

If you’ve already got an artificial tree, pack it away carefully after every Christmas to reduce wear and tear – that way, you can reuse it year after year.

Ecofriendly trees

Choosing decorations

Our Sourced by Oxfam range includes some beautiful tree decorations handmade from sustainable materials. Our tree garland, made from recycled sari material by our amazing Fairtrade partners Sasha, can be found in our shops.

Fairtrade Christmas gifts

3. Gift shopping (with a difference)

Secondhand

Secondhand might not be your first thought when it comes to gift giving – but it can turn up some beautiful gift ideas. And if you took part in SecondHand September, it’s a wonderful way to continue both your support and the movement.

Look out for special and first edition hardback books, rare and classic vinyl, pre-loved homeware, and vintage fashion accessories among other items that’ll delight loved ones on Christmas morning.

Brand new

Buying brand new can also help people and planet when you choose gifts from small businesses and artisans who put a huge amount of care into making their product. In our Sourced by Oxfam range, you will find some absolute gems – including gorgeous jewellery made by Lima Lima, who uses recycled or locally sourced materials wherever possible.

Sustainable jewelry

Give something different

If you want to go totally off-grid in your gift giving, why not give your loved ones goats, chickens, or sweet, sweet honey? These are all fantastically great gift ideas that you can find in our amazing range of Unwrapped gifts. Our most carbon-fighting gift Tackling Climate Change (€20/£18) will put a huge smile on many faces and help beat global poverty in ways you might not have thought. Your gift will immediately go where it's needed most.

In our online shop, your sustainable Christmas can go even further when you purchase the e-card version of any Unwrapped gift. This easy online option won’t increase your carbon footprint at all!

Christmas ethical gift cards

4. Partywear that cares

Every year, people in Ireland spend an incredible amount on new partywear for the festive season and a lot of it gets forgotten as the new year begins. It’s a worrying trend that can lead to tonnes of seasonal fashion ending up in landfill.

Thankfully, you have an earth-friendly alternative near you! Every year in the run-up to Christmas, Oxfam shops go big on second-hand partywear, bringing out their very best festive sparkle to hang on the rails. So find a shop near you and treat yourself to a browse ahead of your Christmas parties.

Secondhand partywear

5. Wrapping the presents (in the best eco-friendly way)

Fabric

Fabric knot wrapping is a gorgeous, zero-waste way to wrap your gifts. Inspired by furoshiki, the Japanese tradition which uses origami-like techniques, knot wrapping can be done with scarves, handkerchiefs, and cuts of fabric. Your local Oxfam shop will have plenty of second-hand options if you need to stock up.

Paper

When it comes to wrapping your gifts with paper, we stock some lovely recycled and craft-based options that are responsibly sourced.

Revive and reuse old paper by finishing with parcel string and sprigs of holly or rosemary, or block printing with patterned wooden stamps for a festive feel.

On the whole, glitter and foil stamped wrapping paper isn’t recyclable – but you can extend its life by reusing any you have to make decorations, envelopes, and more.

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