Been on my list to get going in my area for so long and now they are here!
I love clothes swaps, with a passion. Let’s face it, we all love new clothes, but our planet doesn’t, so clothes swaps are the answer.
They are also the answer to many other issues we face in our modern society. So what part do they play in regenerative culture?
On 29th January a team of people came together in the waterside, New Forest UK for the launch of Waterside Clothes swaps. Under my guidance as the only member of the team who had been to a clothes swap before, and with the help of Natalie Haigh, who is a passionate crafter and bag maker, we wanted to test the water and see who would come.
The hall was quite small, to keep the costs down for the first one, we then got sponsorship from the waterside women – a local community group to help cover the costs of running the first one.
The volunteers numbered around 15, and everyone got stuck in to help make the day run perfectly! The Waterside Party Kit hire came along, although Katie who runs it spent more time helping out than promoting her party kit, but it becomes addictive seeing what clothes are coming through the door!
So how do we run the clothes swaps?
During the week before we collect clothes from the community, so some presorting can take place and for those who can’t make it on the day, but wish to contribute.
In the morning of the event we take clothing donations, we get as many of the clothes on rails as we can, so it has a shopping feel to the swap.
Once we are open, it is free to come in – all our welcome – and then everything is free, regardless of whether you have anything to swap. A team of volunteers sort clothes as they come in, and help people find their way round the different sections. A changing room is available, so much fun can be had trying things on!
Teas, coffee, and cakes were also free, and the Waterside Food Project brought along supermarket surplus bread, cakes and flowers, all again free.
How many things do you go to where it is totally free?
We did have a donation pot out, a give what you feel approach, and we ended up with just over £200! I think people really loved the clothes swap. They are asking for the next one.
So back to regenerative culture. If we wish to really ‘save the planet’ to ensure this beautiful world of ours, for there to be a place for us within it, we have to dramatically change the way we do things, the way we demand things, and value everything and everyone.
What does that have to do with clothes? Everything, there are enough pieces of clothing produced each year for each person to have 14 new items – or 100 billion items. Each one involving fossil fuels in the manufacture, even natural fibres, have far more connection to the fossil fuel industries than is commonly recognized. Of course all of these items of clothing are not evenly distributed around the world, with many never ever seeing a brand new piece of clothing with others seeing far more than their fair share.
We often see talk of food poverty, but very rarely is clothing poverty talked about, but both go hand in hand. The drivers behind social media and fast fashion also can have very serious effects on our mental health.
If we can change the way we view clothing, and understand its impact on our world and all the lives that inhabit our biosphere we can all win.
There are far too many issues for me to cover in this blog post, and really I wanted to start by celebrating the success of our first Waterside Clothes swap. Please do some research if you feel you would like to understand more about the impact of textiles.
And if that feels too much for you, then at least try to make your next purchases from a charity shop, or search out your local clothes swap – and if there are none, MAKE IT HAPPEN in your area!