Guest Blog: Swishing Away

Knowledge is Power

When I was invited to guest blog, I took a long look at the initiatives the Eastbourne community has already started to get off the ground as part of the town’s ambitious bid to become carbon neutral by 2030. The phrase which jumped out at me straight away was, “knowledge is power”.

Photo by Gervyn Louis on Unsplash

It’s for this exact reason that I decided I had a duty to inform as many people as possible about the impact fast fashion is having on our planet.  This is, of course, a massive challenge in today’s world, where social media plays a huge part with its influencer generation, moulding and shaping our impressionable youth.

What About the Teens?

However, there is also an alternative influencer, who at the tender age of just 17, has already drummed up an army of supporters, encouraging them to make a stand by skipping school to protest that not enough is being done by world governments to deal with the severity of climate change.  Never has the world needed Greta Thunberg more than right now.

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

As the mother of three teenagers, I can find myself torn between their need to make choices independently and my desire to educate them about their online purchases, which often come across from Asia before being delivered directly to our door via courier.  Often when they get together with friends, the conversation centres around the photo session they are going to have and which different outfits and hairstyles they will be adopting, with what accessories. 

This is not dissimilar to my teenage years with a Polaroid camera after a trip to Tammy Girl in Bradford with friends, however, the easily affordable cost of fashion for our teenagers today, along with the speed in which new outfits can arrive, to then be tossed aside after the photo session and forgotten about, is costing our planet dearly.

So What to Do?

The answer is clear; everything we possibly can collectively and as individuals to put pressure on decision-makers to reverse these damaging trends and ensure that our children are being told about the effects these fast fashion purchases are having on the environment.

Photo by Adrienne Leonard on Unsplash

For a number of reasons I very rarely buy new clothes – as my mortified teens would testify – preferring to rummage around charity shops but also because I’m quite satisfied with my wardrobe collection, which really does need updating but I’m the sort of person who is happy with what she likes, so asking me to fast from fashion is not a huge undertaking.  I am fully aware though, that this message may not resonate well with those who love to buy new clothes.

This is where “knowledge is power” and education comes into the conversation. Can we do more to convince shopaholics that there are other ways to release endorphins; that trying on outfits and deciding what we look good in can be done in a manner which is sympathetic to our environmental challenges, that helps to get the message across that we should carefully consider every single purchase we make; do we really need the item we are buying and if so, how long will it last us, how has it been made and what are the conditions of those who have contributed to its manufacture. 

Swish Away the Winter Blues

Here comes Swish – not a new phenomenon but the idea behind it, in my opinion, should never go out of fashion.  Swish is the name for an event or party which is held for people to exchange each other’s clothes, rather than going out and buying new.  The basic rules are that you take along, let’s say, 5 items, which means you can also take the same number of garments away with you.  The clothes should be in good order, clean and have plenty of wear left.  

Photo by BBH Singapore on Unsplash

I decided to put the feelers out about holding this event, largely as an initiative for Spring Clearing Week which is organised by a national body called, APDO (The Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers), of which I am a member, due to my role as a professional organiser in Eastbourne.  Having posted this on various local Facebook pages I realised Swishing had been done before in Eastbourne and people were offering me hints and tips on the best way to hold it.  This gave me a huge feeling of hope, particularly when I was approached by a member of the Eastbourne ECO Action Network to potentially consider joining the movement.  I grabbed it with both hands, attending the Eastbourne Carbon Neutral 2030 event and chatting with stallholders about the amazing stuff they’re doing for our wonderful town.  I felt empowered. 

Now in Eastbourne

The aim moving forward is to hold four Swish events in Eastbourne each year, which will mirror the change in seasons, the first being towards the end of March.  This will be useful to those who wish to consider decluttering their wardrobes as the weather changes, bringing items to Swish events for others to consider reusing.  Like all things which need to catch on, changing habits is the key reason for holding this event four times per year.  The more we get the message out there; the more informative our message is about the difference we can make, the more people will take notice and realise that the power of knowledge really can change lives and ultimately secure our planet for a much longer future.

Eastbourne Swish Event

9.30-13.30
Saturday
21 March

If you would like to be involved in this event or would like more information you can email to sortingoutspacesos@gmail.com.

Jules Anderson

Professional Declutterer

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