BY JULIA WADE
A vital protective charity and the environment were the major benefactors of a large-sized shopping spree held recently which also served to replenish the wardrobes of some local ladies.
Plastic Free Mangawhai’s (PFM) ‘Swap til you drop’ social fundraiser event on July 28 resulted in $500 being donated to Women’s Refuge to date with the possibility of more to come, as well as 90 women fitted out with new, preloved clothes.
Held at the Senior Citizens Hall, Mangawhai Heads, the event was so popular organisers had to extend their original ticket limit as well as switch venues from the Mangawhai Tavern to the hall on Fagan Place.
In welcoming the eager swap-shoppers, PFM founder Kate Matheson emphasised the huge benefit for the environment when people reuse and recycle pre-loved clothes.
“Currently the clothing industry accounts for 10 per cent of global carbon emissions from using fossil fuels for machinery and transportation. Most fabrics are full of micro-plastics and ‘ethical’ crops like cotton still have huge water irrigation and transportation costs. The fashion industry also uses 24 per cent of insecticides and 11 per cent of pesticides globally, which we know are killing our insects,” she says.
“There are 22 seasons in the fashion calendar, pumping out a huge amount of news items. In New Zealand, almost 10 per cent of our landfills are made up of clothing and 25 per cent of that is brand new or barely worn items. We actually have enough clothes to last the world many years and don’t really need to keep making more. This avalanche is only going to slow down if we make better consumer choices.”
Personal stylist Mary Daniel-Miller, who has over 20 years experience in the New Zealand and overseas fashion industry, was on hand to offer expert fashion advice for all body shapes and sizes. The Red Beach resident says events like the clothes swap are raising awareness of important issues that need addressing concerning the manufacture, distribution and retail practises within the fashion industry.
“For a long time the industry has been able to produce excess quantities of fast fashion without being challenged. But a few years ago, we started to see an emergence of a new kind of consumer, who asks questions about the ethics of sweat shops and child labour in the manufacturing sector, and who has a new awareness of the negative consequences industry practises are having globally. This is exciting because the fashion industry will have to become accountable for their actions,” she says.
“Consumers are also beginning to look more closely at the entire process, from the fibre and the makeup of the fabric that goes into the garments through to the end user and even the after story; what happens to something when it is no longer wanted, and how does this have an effect on our environment?”
From the personal stylist point of view, Daniel-Miller says wearing pre-loved clothes and shopping in op-shops has many positive aspects and will be a clothing experience she will definitely be exploring with her clients.
“I think the idea of op shopping has always had a negative stigma attached to it, conjuring images of moth eaten jumpers and dusty forgotten cast-offs, but I want people to realise you can put together some great looks from these clothes. It’s wonderful what you can find in second-hand clothing stores and it can be just as stylish as off-the-rack in high street retail stores,” she says. “It's about knowing and enjoying your body and wearing it with confidence, not about endless throwaway items that don't fit properly and end up as landfill a few months later.”
PFM would like to extend a big thanks to the following local businesses and community for their support of the Swap Meet: Mangawhai Tavern, Senior Citizens Hall for agreeing to hold the event, Fit365, Mangawhai Physiotherapy and Bammas for allowing their premises to be used as clothing collection points, Mangawhai’s two op shops, and everyone who helped display clothes, lent equipment, cooked the food and tidied up post-event.
Like to know more about ethical fashion companies and retailers? Visit tearfund.org.nz/Get-Involved/Ethical-Fashion-Guide.aspx
The hunt is on! The Swap was part of the ‘Plastic Free July’ promotion along with PFM’s ‘Bring it to win it’ competition which saw 14 gifts given to locals who used their containers and bags in Mangawhai retail outlets throughout the month.