Recycling was in fashion at a special charity event where women from across the region swapped instead of shopped for new clothes.

Smile For Life Children’s Charity’s Tea and Togs event saw dozens of fashionistas take part in ‘swishing’ – swapping unwanted clothes – at Novotel Newcastle Airport on World Earth Day (Sunday).

The event, which raised hundreds of pounds for young people with disabilities and learning difficulties across the North East, also saw a fashion show put on by Unique Boutique, who have stores in Whitley Bay and Morpeth.

The fashion outlet also focuses on sourcing ethical products such as their carrier bags, which raise money to support homeless children in India and their families.

Charity Chief Executive Paula Gascoigne said: “We were delighted to welcome more than 80 women along for an afternoon of food, fizz and fashion at Tea and Togs 2018.

“This year’s event fell on World Earth Day, which gave us the opportunity to do something really positive for our planet, by encouraging people to swap unwanted clothes instead of buying new things.

“We wanted to do our bit as a charity, and we were so glad that so many people came along and had a fantastic afternoon. They also helped raise vital funds to enable us to keep changing the lives of young people with disabilities and learning difficulties for the better.”

Unique Boutique showcased some of their clothing range using real-women models, who were supporters or volunteers from Smile For Life.

Sean Wood, owner of Unique Boutique’s Morpeth store, said: “We absolutely loved being part of Tea and Togs this year, with an emphasis on helping the environment.

“We really share this sentiment and use bags made from recycled newspapers, helping to raise money for counselling, shelter, employment and support for children and families in India.”

He added: “There was such a fantastic atmosphere and gave us the chance to meet lots of new people, show off some of our clothes and raise some money for a great cause.

“Swishing is such a great idea – it is fantastic to see clothes not going to waste and being recycled. People are able to see clothing in a different way and are given the chance to get their hands on something they might not usually buy.”

The manufacturing of clothing has been proven to have a detrimental effect on the environment.

According to waste body ‘Wrap’, the average value of clothes in our homes is £4000, with only 30% of people’s clothing being worn in the past year.

The cost of this unused clothing in the UK alone is estimated to be a staggering £30 billion.

Louise Ellison, from North Shields, who took part in the swishing event, said: “I picked up some beautiful items that were no longer wanted, while clothing that I no longer wore has found a new home. Everyone’s a winner!

“This is such an easy, eco-friendly way of getting new clothes, I can’t believe there aren’t more events like this happening.

“Smile For Life and Novotel did such a fantastic job of putting on an event which encourages recycling, raises money for a fantastic cause and allows us ladies a little slice of luxury. I can’t wait for next year!”

As well as swapping unwanted clothes, women of all shape and sizes were able to buy products from a range of ethical stalls selling hand-made gifts, organic fruit and veg and cruelty-free skincare products.

To find out more about Smile For Life Children’s Charity call 0191 284 4166, head to www.smileforlife.org.uk or check them out on social media by searching @SmileForLifeNE.