Swap Til You Drop! What on Earth is ‘Swishing’?!
We have all heard of ‘reduce’, ‘reuse’ and ‘recycle’ but what does that actually mean? Commonly, people are mistaken in believing that recycling has the greatest impact on our environment however this is not the case. The three ‘R’s’ are definitely listed in that order for a reason! Recently, there has been a lot of focus on reducing the intake of plastic through the ‘save the turtles’ movement and a big crack down on plastic shopping bags, but where's the current information on why and how to reuse your items? Here’s the in’s and out’s on how to get started on your reusing journey!
So firstly, what does it mean to ‘reuse’ anyway? To reuse an item refers to using it more than once. It has a wider beneficial cost than recycling because you are re-purposing an item for another use without consuming significantly more resources, meaning less waste! In our world, this is entirely vital due to our consumerism nature and the fact we simply can't rely on our waste being recycled anymore. British companies alone shipped more than 2.7m tons of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong from 2012-2018, as this was deemed a much cheaper option than us recycling it ourselves! Since this export has ceased, the uk have had a huge backlog of waste with nowhere to go. Now, with China’s door closed, much of that recycled plastic is likely ending up at your local landfill. China’s new policy could displace as much as 111 million metric tons of plastic waste by 2030. With this in mind, it’s time we make a conscious effort to reuse old items instead of piling onto the ‘waste mountain’.
The best way to start to reuse items is to start swapping your old belongings, rather than buying brand new ones. So what are the benefits of swapping your items? Well, it’s actually much more cost effective. If you look through your wardrobe, you will find old clothes you haven’t touched in years… here’s your currency! This is where ‘swishing’ comes in, which is swapping an item or items of clothing or shoes or an accessory with friends or acquaintances. Simply take your currency (old clothes) and use it to purchase new clothes (your pals old clothes!). Oh, but you don’t have anyone in to swap with in person? Don’t worry, that’s what Swapabee is for. Swapabee is a simple yet effective way to swap your old garments (or anything else you have around the house) with anyone else’s in your local area. Sign up to the app, list your item(s) and choose who you would like to swap with. It’s really that easy. Swapping your belongings eliminates the need to spend your whole paycheck on new things as well as stopping the cycle of buying and adding to landfill.
If you are lucky enough to be able to swap your belongings with people you know, a clothes swapping event could help raise funds for charity. Clothes swapping actually started in the 90’s as a charity event, with either a joining fee being donated to charity or swapping the money donation for the items. You can also sell refreshments at your event as well as hold an auction or raffle to bring in the extra pounds. There is a lot of information out there on how to create your own charity swishing event, with a previous event making £516 in just two hours!
It is important to remember that, although only going to a clothes swap to, well, swap clothes is amazing, some people might want more than just that. You might have people attend that aren't so sure on why they are doing it, or rather just attending because it's something new and fun to do. For these people, you could consider giving out information on the topic, explaining to them the amazing impact they’re having on the globe as well as other tips on how to continue these habits outside of the meet. You could bring inspiring books to the event, such as “Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution,” which is action-based and shows people how to get involved with a more sustainable fashion future, or “There is no planet B” which is a thought-provoking look into how humans have gained power over our earth and the impact this has had, as well as giving a realistic viewpoint in what we can actually do to help.
Another way to really embrace the ‘reuse’ section of the three R’s is to take your ‘trash’ and turn it into treasure! You can really get creative with this and start to think out the box, but to get you started, here are some simple tips and tricks. Plastic bags are a big culprit of being used once then thrown out, but to avoid this you could use them as packing materials to protect fragile items, use them to wrap car windscreen wipers in freezing weather, keep plants alive when you leave town by placing plastic bags around the entire plant to trap moisture and even just donate used plastic bags (without rips or tears) to local businesses who need bags like thrift stores, libraries, or animal shelters. Another common ‘trash’ item which you might not think would come in handy more than once are tea bags! You can use these to relieve puffy eyes, soothe insect bites and minor burns by chilling the bags in the refrigerator then placing them on bites or burns, take a calming bath by adding used tea bags to bath water which gives you some free aromatherapy and skin smoothing effects and by breaking them open and sprinkling the contents over the soil below a plant, you can provide enrichment to your garden!
Overall, there are loads of ways in which you can get started with reusing any of your old beloved items, giving them a new lease of life. It is important to note that the first step is to change your mindset regarding your trash. Every single thing you are going to throw out can have another purpose, you just haven’t found it yet. To get motivated on environmental issues is one of the most hardest yet rewarding things you can do, but by taking inspiration from these steps, it might just be that one bit easier!
This article is in association with SWAPABEE. An environmental app company that allows anyone to swap their items for others. Create an account and start swapping today at https://swapabee.co.uk/.