Life & Style

Barter, sharing...it is a happy exchange

Thrift shopping, barter and sharing are growing modes of a sustainable lifestyle

From growing one’s own vegetable patches and a conscious rejection of plastic to more evolved concepts of sharing, reuse, recycling and barter, a slow, yet definitive movement towards sustainability is finding foot in the city. MetroPlus explores these initiatives.

A ready-to-wear blouse from Seamstress arrives, but the package seemed heavy. Inside was a long Indie dress, which wasn’t ordered. And out of its folds popped a picture postcard, which said the garment was a survivor of the 2018 flood and the makers would like it to be donated to someone who might appreciate it.

The team at Seamstress, a boutique garment label based at Puthenvelikkara, has been giving away its flood affected stock to customers asking them to donate them in turn.

Founder Rasmi Poduval says it was heartbreaking to throw away the clothes that had been destroyed. The water that rose to over 10 ft, left heaps of silt, under which these garments were stuck. While some were completely destroyed, others had faded.

The team sorted out the clothes that could be salvaged, then got them dry cleaned. “We thought of a number of creative ways to use the damaged garments, but handing them over to some one who will have use for them was the best thing to do, we felt,” says Rasmi. The team donated garments to the people in the villages around Kochi, who had also been severely affected by the flood.

Until the last of the flood-survivor clothes is gone, the donation will continue, says Rasmi. The postcard also requests customers to send a photograph of the person whom they have donated it to, wearing the garment. “It is not just a garment to us, after all. It is the work of our heart. It would make our day to see someone happily wear it.”

When Ann Benjamin, an anchor at Kappa TV, found that she had a lot of great clothes she didn’t want to wear, she wondered why she couldn’t swap them for something else?

Thrift shopping is gaining momentum the world over and Ann did some research before she drew up a plan. By promoting the concept, she realised clothes could be prevented from ending up in landfills.

She founded Swap Room, a space where one can drop off a garment, accessory, book or magazine that one does not want to use.

Ann, however, says the idea is not to give away things that are torn or unusable. “The idea is to encourage people to reuse and recycle. Your wardrobe may have clothes you have never worn and don’t intend to, books someone has gifted you that is not your type or an accessory that doesn’t spark joy. Wouldn’t it be great to see someone else using them?” asks Ann.

Though such efforts have been doing their rounds in bigger cities, it is a fairly new concept to Kochi. In the first three weeks of October, she conducted a collection drive, which received a good response. Those who donated at the drive were given a point, based on the item they gave, and at the sale, they would be eligible to pick up a product that corresponds to point they have earned.

Give and take

A WhatsApp group for bartering, gifting and loaning has been formed with an aim of promoting minimalism. Though in its initial stages, the group has been garnering a good response from locals, many of who are interested in recycling, reusing and reducing waste.

“The larger idea is to encourage ourselves and others to use less and acquire only what we need,” says Bachan Anand, who is facilitating such exchange groups in local communities. “It is also about giving without expectations and cutting down on buying.”

Members envision an environment where one offers something and whoever wants it, asks for it. Right now, clothes, books, and any item that a member wants to give can be announced on the group. A member can offer something in exchange of another product or item, he or she can simply donate an item or loan it for a particular time period. There is no money involved in these barters.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 5:47:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/thrift-shopping-barter-and-sharing-are-growing-modes-of-a-sustainable-lifestyle-in-kochi/article29972739.ece

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