"We throw away approximately one million tonnes of clothing a year - 50% of which ends up in landfill" - North London Waste Authority
Luck was on our side for the Castle's first clothes swap of the year as it turned out to be a very sunny Sunday. The clothes donating began early with people exchanging the clothes they had brought for tokens, which coiuld then be swapped for an item they wanted to take home. People arrived ladened with bags and rucksacks full of carefully selected, good quality, men's and women's clothing. Castle volunteers Charlotte and Susie helped people pick out suitable items for the swap, clothes in good condition which someone else would be chuffed to take home. A couple of people generously brought suitcases of baby's and children's clothes still with plenty of wear left. Those that came early then had time for a climb, visit the Castle cafe and enjoy the welcome clement weather before the swap began.
The excitement was building. So many clothes!!!... plus bags, sunglasses, shoes and hats. The clothes rails were desperately trying to keep their composure under the weight!
At 1pm the Big Swish began! Instead of frenzied fighting and chaos to get to the best clothes, there was calm. In keeping with the garden setting, a relaxed couple of hours ensued, as people looked, chatted and tried things on. Everyone found plenty of items to choose from, such as fleeces, jeans and children's clothes and even tried out some new styles.
It was fantastic to see how happy people were with their new items. To think, these were clothes that had been stored away, hardly worn no longer loved by their previous owners. As much as people were pleased with their finds, they were also really pleased to see their own items go to someone who would enjoy them and make use of them.
Thank you to everyone who came along and participated, for giving, and for making the day really fun. And we raised a further £12 for the Nepalese Earthquake Relief Fund.
I'd like to think most people do take clothes they don't want anymore to charity shops or pass them on to friends, but I've witnessed on many occasions clothes ending up in bins. Perhaps it is because they don't have time to take them to a charity shop or clothes bank, or don't have the time or skills to mend things as we did in the past. Maybe they don't see the value in the materials that go to waste when they are sent to landfill, or consider the labour, energy and resources that go in to the process of making and transporting the clothes.
Billy and his family came along to the clothes swap today. Billy designs and makes everyday clothes, using sustainable materials and makes them to last. You can find his clothes on his website Billy Bootlegg. It's great to actually know the person who made your clothes, and know that they took the time and attention to design and make them well.
Tom van Deijnen of The Visible Mending Programme, Brighton, started mending clothes after realising the level of skill involved through learning to make his own. "I began to appreciate the skill and effort all these anonymous people put in to making clothes for the high street. If you want to make people understand why £4 for a T-shirt is not the right price, get them to make an item of clothing. We should respect them for making these clothes for us, especially at the prices we pay.”