I keep thinking about the great satisfaction people get from seeing their discarded garments adopted by someone. And I think there is one more key explanations for this paradox besides the aversion to waste that I meditated about last week.
That someone chooses your old garment for their wardrobe serves as confirmation that both you and your belongings are *good*. The garment was beautiful and well cared for, and you chose to give it a second opportunity and share it with someone. Clearly, you are a good person who makes wise decisions. This confirmation of virtue, although rather unconscious, gives an incredible high.
No, I’m not being sarcastic here. There is true virtue in it, we feel it and we love it. Most of the easy virtuous behavior in our postindustrial societies require a credit of trust in institutions who are the middleman between our intentions and a big collective impact. We separate our garbage among several containers and trust that thus it will get recycled by our municipality. We buy from a “better” brand and trust that it will change the lives of the people forming part of that particular fair trade cooperative in India. We sign a petition online and trust that it will help free a human rights activist.
We trust that the institution is honest, we trust that the goal is possible, and we trust that our tiny contribution matters. That’s a lot of trust. And I’m not saying it’s all evil and futile out there, I’m saying that we are immersed in very complex systems and rarely see the final step of our intended action becoming reality.
This is why swapping – or your stuff getting a second life in any other real way – is so satisfying. It is the here and now of doing good. It happens right in front of you and there are no doubts to be quieted by just trusting.
Indeed, you have no guarantees regarding the actions of the new owner. They could put that precious wool cardigan in a washing machine that very afternoon and ruin it (somebody did this to a vintage Oleana cardigan after September 2017 swap; I’m clearly still traumatized), but you have done your part. These moments wash away the guilt created by unfortunate acquisitions and open the path for a more considerate future.
Oh, I really need a swap…
This book is a classic and is sometimes blurbed as being three books in one: a memoir, a business book and a sustainability manifesto. And it is! Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman (2005 ) by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard (1938) is all that indeed. Although the tone and quality of the text vary across the book, and is much more convincing when talking of past than of the current activities, this is a very useful read for anybody interested in the ills of the fashion industry or making a business actually sustainable.
One of those things you really hate to be reminded of: Most Clothing is NOT Biodegrable – Even 100% Cotton!
Oh, I swoon when reading about people who can say “So that was the gap we decided to fill: luxury tailoring informed by an avant-garde attitude”: Savile Row Is Defined by Tradition. Will That Change After COVID?
And I love a good “let’s recreate lost ecosystems” story: Fire Sheep.
“Wearing [traditional dress when accessing power] in this day and age is an act of self empowerment and reclamation of who we are and that gives us the opportunity to proudly make bold statements in front of others who sometimes refuse to see us. It allows us to be our authentic selves unapologetically”: Deb Haaland Makes History, and Dresses for It.
+ You are not your work. You are not your work. And your workplace is not meant to be a benevolent benefactor: Against “Feel Free To Take Some Time If You Need It”.
And that’s it for this week! I hope that you enjoyed reading and would be very happy to hear from you, regarding the immediate satisfaction of swapping or anything else… in the comments below, via Facebook or Instagram, or via e-mail at luize.ratniece [a] gmail .com
Guardarrr is a weekly bilingual newsletter dedicated to sustainability and mindfulness in fashion. It is written by Luīze Ratniece, a sociologist and textile activist based in Barcelona. Guardarrr is both a tool for reflection and a crowdfunding channel for the wardrobe tracking app that Luīze is building. If you read this newsletter and value it, please consider going to the paid version to fund this project for a monthly equivalent of a coffee + pastry. Each subscription warms my heart immensely and helps going on, thank you so much for being here with me!