September Swap (11th!) recap

My pride and joy, happy uncustomers.

As I keep responding people who come to me all excited about how great the swaps are, ‘yeah, I’ve been doing this since 2016 and this is the 11th time, I’ve learnt a thing or two…’ There were no force majeures during this event, all went well, all as usual. So I have only a couple of points to write down for the history and such…

My swap stuff to be carried from home is down to one carrito and one bag, yeah! Practice, eh.


On volunteers

Chus and Patri being the heroes until the very end.

While I love everybody who gives their time, social networks or money to swaps, it always feels to little. And I know that the problem is mine. This is my love project, and my unconscious measuring of people’s dedication by my own standards are clearly ludicrous… but I still do that. And numerous bitter experiences have confirmed that I cannot trust anybody to do what they promised they’d do until they’ve done that. Well, we don’t have a written contract, I pay no money and circumstances change, indeed. On the other hand, I know very well that I am unable to set up and wrap up a swap alone.

That said, *thank you* so much to those who came early and those who stayed late, and those who shared the event on FB and IG, those that left tips, and those who keep liking Un Armario Verde stuff on social media. This time, I have to thank especially Liisa, Lorena, Coco, Effie, Virginia, Cynthia, Grace, Patricia, Chus… and Mara from across the ocean! xoxo


On wrap up

The final countdown being performed by Grace, Cynthia, Patri and Chus.

It’s f*ing exhausting! If the setup is at least filled with the excitement – and more people volunteer for this part – wrapping up a swap is quite horrible… I try to entice people with the fact that you get to go through all the things, maybe still take something for yourself, make snide comments about other people’s stuff, but even I didn’t have much fun this time. Taking into account that it takes place after 5+ hours of being on my feet and has to be done so as to return Ateneu to its best possible state, ugh. I just kept observing how the light went out of those who had volunteered to stay until the end, poor creatures. Again, thank you so much for enduring so much, and I hope to see you again!


On leftovers

First of all, I’ll bite the next person who’ll ask me what do I do with the leftovers and then roll their eyes at me. F*ck you! You make a comprehensive survey about the textile reuse/recycling opportunities in Barcelona and take a reasonable decision about what to do with these bags and bags of (mostly) low quality / worn out clothes. And then physically carry it out instead of being philosophical about it. Dear people, your textile garbage is not amazing, nobody wants it!

So, for those at the back, for many times now, we pack it up and take it to Botiga Gratis of Banc Expropriat who run a very similar affair to my swaps but do that every working day for 3h (if you ever need any basic clothing or just want to browse sth, c/ Quevedo 13-15 from 18:00 till 21:00). It is not far but requires at least two trips for at least two adults with the aid of supermarket trolleys. And it has to be done on Monday or Tuesday after the swap, as Ateneu has other activities to do instead of just keeping a space full of bags and the Botiga Gratis ladies rest on weekends. So far I think I’ve had only such ‘volunteers’ for the Botiga Gratis part that I can coerce emotionally because they are friends: Liisa, Mara, and, I think most often throughout these years, C ♥.

The political choice I mentioned earlier in choosing the next step in the reusing/recycling chain is a complex one… The official stance of the city of Barcelona are the orange Roba Amiga containers. It is a Catholic-church affiliated NGO and they have the municipal contract for all textile residue management. They have shops that resell, they export to other countries, and they make pulp for industrial rags, carpeting, isolation, etc. I estimate, though, that the likelihood that somebody will wear the same garment you have deposited in the orange in Barcelona is very small… only if they are part of the illegal resellers that routinely break in those containers.

Botiga Gratis is not perfect either. They are also overwhelmingly full of low quality stuff, so seeing our haul does not necessarily make them happy. And they don’t believe in textile recycling – their hate for second-hand shops and resellers is visceral indeed – so all their discards go to the gray container and straight to the landfill. Not cool for all that polyester and other materials that will be there forever. 200+ years, Fashion Revolution dixit:

Taking into account the actual quality of the leftovers, the most considerate way of doing this would be to take the good things to Botiga Gratis and the bad ones to a Roba Amiga container. We actually separated them while sorting this time, again, with an extra effort from those tired volunteers, but ended up not doing it… because the closest church that had a container according to Roba Amiga homepage was brandishing a sign ‘we are not accepting clothes for Caritas’. F*ck it, said we and just hauled it to Botiga Gratis.


On finds: for me

I got a new pair of – this time – fake birks… the most hilarious part is that I didn’t notice that it is a Natura copy until I started taking photos at home. Well, welcome to the family! The old ones have had 250+ wears and are very ready to be discarded, so the bar for the performance of the new ones is a low one. They are longer but much more narrow than birks, so my hobbit feet will have to work hard to deform that length into width.

I also picked up a couple of things with a hope to refashion them, I’ll let you know if that happens.


On finds: for people who are coming

Washed and KonMaried, ta-dah! Also, a dachshund ribbon fixes everything.

My friend Luisa is expecting and this swap – unexpectedly! – offered me a chance to give her a babyshower present. Being me, knowing that she has already got quite few hand-me-downs for the baby, and her knowing me well enough (and being a fan of swaps), buying something new felt inauthentic… so, after asking her first from the swap if she was interested in 4 new-looking Primark 100% cotton onesies size 86cm, a gift was born. I hope Clarinha likes them too, they are soft and look quite comfy to poop in.


Here you have my rant, see you on December 14th then! Because, although I complain and get tired, the show must go on… because it makes so much sense, because this is the thing that has do be done. And, as my love for rags is intense, it clearly has to be me doing this. I love you, swaps.

What are your swap experiences? Ever attended one? Ever organized one? Ever thought of organizing one, found this post, and now think it’s not such a good idea? Do it! All those sad garments at the very bottom of the wardrobe needs some airing out and somebody new to hang out with.


  1. It was a sad thing to not assist this edition, feel like a broke a personal record, but count me in for December😊

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.