Eco consciousness is on the rise; Britain has declared a climate emergency, Greta Thunberg has sailed her way across the Atlantic, and Extinction Rebellion are commandeering our streets, but it is our heightened consumerism and the throwaway culture that is coming under increasing scrutiny. Our rate of consumption is having a devastating impact on our planet, with fast fashion alone producing more CO2 than air travel and shipping combined (1.2 billion tons of it, to be precise).
These facts are stark and overwhelming, and yet shopping is a habit that I, alongside so many others, am still really struggling to kick. You know how it is – the allure of the glossy high street is so strong, and the clever marketing wriggles its way into our brain to make us feel incomplete without the next new item. Thankfully for shopaholics however, there are ways of cutting down your carbon footprint while still recreating that ‘shoppers high’ – the best of which is to buy second hand. Luckily, York is an Aladdin’s cave of pre-loved wonders, well equipped with charity shop and independent boutiques to help you get your shopping fix while saving your pennies as well as the planet.
If you’re looking to buy second-hand clothing in York, you’re actually pretty spoiled for choice, as the amount of shops selling preloved goods almost rivals the amount of high street brands in the city centre. One of the best areas to visit is Goodramgate, which is home to numerous charity shops including Oxfam, Sue Ryder and The British Heart Foundation. These shops are well worth a browse, and even though you may have to battle your way through some tatt and bric-a-brac, there are some real treasures in their midst. And the rewards are threefold – not only do you walk away with a bargain, but you’re combatting throwaway fashion culture and helping a good cause to boot!
As well as charity shop chains, Goodramgate offers some independently owned boutiques dedicated to cultivating the best vintage clothing. One of these is Chinese Laundry, a vintage clothing boutique for men and women. Vintage stores like this make second-hand shopping so easy, as they hand select garments for their quality and style, which cuts down on the amount of time you spend trawling through rails. As well as vintage goods, Chinese Laundry stock independent labels around the UK, keeping it’s carbon footprint small.
Vintage treasures can be found all over York, from Dog & Bone Vintage on Castlegate, a popular favourite amongst students, to Bowler Vintage Clothing on Fossgate, which has welcomed customers for more than a decade.
One of the newest additions to York’s shopping scene is Headlock Vintage, which has made it’s residency in Spark: York. Headlock Vintage Clothing has been around since 2009 and will be a familiar name to regulars at Glastonbury and Parklife festival. Now happily at home here in York, it sells preloved items from classic labels including Levis, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger at just a fraction of the price.
York is a well renown wonderland for bibliophiles and offers shop after shop of literary gems waiting to be discovered. As well as charity shops like The Oxfam Bookshop on Micklegate, and Books for Amnesty on Goodramgate, York is a goldmine for independent booksellers.
On Micklegate, Ken Spelman Books has been charming visitors since 1948. The store has garnered praise far beyond the city calls, having been escribed as ‘one of the 10 best rare bookshops in Britain’ by The Independent amongst other accolades. The store deals in rare and secondhand books and stocks a huge range of literature to pique your curiosity, whether you’re an avid collector or just looking for something to read on your train journey home.
Of course, no trip to York is complete without a visit to Minster Gate Book Shop. Nestled unassumingly beneath the shadow of the Minster, this seemingly tiny bookshop is actually a many-floored treasure trove, complete with crooked staircases, fireplaces, and teetering stacks of books from floor to ceiling. It may take a bit of searching to find what you’re looking for considering their pretty immense stock of works, but once inside it’s charming little rooms we can promise you’ll want to while away the hours living out your best Hogwarts Library dreams.
For music, Goodramgate’s Earworm Records is a must. Although slightly off the beaten track (hidden down one of York’s ‘snickelways’), Earworm Records has some really brilliant write-ups under its belt and stands as a go-to place for music lovers in York. With vinyl ranging from techno, disco and hip hop, to indie, soul, and jazz, you’re pretty sure to find something you love, and with the chance ‘try before you buy’ by give your records a pre-purchase spin, Earworm’s depth of knowledge and attention to detail really does put them onto a winner.
Finally, for something a little bit different, try Micklegate’s FortyFive Vinyl café, which opened its doors to the public just two years ago. FortyFive is a record store, music venue, and café rolled into one, that pairs the laid back atmosphere of a contemporary café with the nostalgic charm of vinyl culture. While today’s one click music streaming culture is something many of us couldn’t live without, venues like FortyFive show us the value of slowing down and enjoying the experience of music – whether that means taking home a treasured 70’s classic, or just taking time to relax with a cup of tea and enjoy the background music. A great all in one venue, and perfect for a final port of call after a day’s shopping.