At the end of September 2020, Empty Your Wardrobe opened its doors to a physical space residing in Kolding’s creative hub, Bygning 5, a communal Culture House in the centre of Kolding dedicated to cultural entrepreneurs and creative initiatives. Aptly named ‘Swap Spot’, the space allows members of the community (and beyond) to swap their clothes, textiles, and accessories for new (but second-hand) ones displayed at Swap Spot. The aim is to generate a dynamic circular flow of second-hand goods within the community and to encourage citizens to choose second-hand instead of new by showing them its potential. For example, saving money, reducing your carbon footprint, harmlessly experimenting with your style, and finding unique pieces embedded with stories and spirit.
Organically and over time, Swap Spot has become a hub that explores ways of addressing these landscapes. It actively asks and experiments with responding to many questions and ideas. Swap Spot invites you to imagine that communities and citizens are at the heart of the fashion & textile industry and they generate dynamic loops of resources to increase their lifespans, thus respecting planetary boundaries and the human resources that have gone into cultivating them. By encouraging and challenging citizens in the local community to reconsider their consumer habits, Swap Spot aims to initiate behavioral change on a grassroots level.
Why is our focus on increasing the longevity of clothing?
In a report by Wrap it’s stated, ‘The processes from raw material to garment supply contribute around one-third of the waste footprint, three-quarters of the carbon impact and most of the water footprint of clothing. It continues, ‘Extending the life of clothing by an extra nine months of active use would reduce carbon, waste and water footprints by around 20-30% each and cut resource costs by 20% [41 billion Danish Krone]’.
Ultimately, the Swap Spot acts as a hub supporting community members to shop pre-loved clothing as opposed to brand new, thus preserving the precious resources already existing on our planet.
Members of the community are invited to visit Swap Spot with a maximum of 10 pieces of clothing, textiles, and/or accessories. These pieces are then carefully quality-checked by volunteers using a calculator developed by the Swap Spot team led by Natálie Vencovská. This process assigns each piece with a number of Wastecoins that the user receives in their digital Wastecoin wallet in exchange for their goods. They are then able to spend their Wastecoins in the Swap Spot or save them for their next visit.
Currently, the Swap Spot has been moved to the Sustainability House in the city, achieving a huge success after being reopened in August 2021. More than 1174 PIECES OF CLOTHING have been saved, items that would probably end up in waste, perhaps in the landfills. New collaborations have been established: items that are in the store for a long time and are not good looking, will be donated from now on to local organisation New Start Kolding – then they donate clothing to the concrete people who need it – and that is what counts!
Wastecoin is a green currency developed by the Empty Your Wardrobe team. Wastecoin is a green cryptocurrency that measures the amount of CO2 emissions saved and that converts textile waste for now into value, to be spent on a multitude of sustainable offers (services and products) in the marketplace. Initially, Wastecoin was developed only to be used in the Swap Spot however, by connecting with different stakeholders, EYW and a team of professionals strive to expand the local network and find new ways and methods to implement this cryptocurrency to be used in a variety of other services and products. Ultimately, the vision of Wastecoin is to minimize the waste on our planet. This is achieved by turning our waste into a currency. Its aim is to stimulate citizens to rethink their consumption, make more conscious lifestyle choices & encourage governments to support businesses, households, and citizens to take green actions.
Swap Spot will continue the collaboration with our project. Soon fabrics, old jeans, or other bigger pieces of cloth will travel to Dahlia and will be used to create new beautiful garments out of this waste. Amazing right?
A few weeks back, the project received local funding. Natalie would like to invest this money to support community involvement in Swap Spot: lifting up ideas such as sustainable workshops, pitches. Outdoor and indoor events, debates, etc.
WHY DO WE DO ALL THAT?
By keeping products and components in use within the economy at their highest value and utility at all times their embodied energy is preserved for longer, and the need for new production and end-of-life treatment is reduced. This significantly reduces GHG emissions that would otherwise have resulted from the production of new products. Modelling this opportunity showed that global emissions could be reduced by 1.1 billion tonnes CO2 in 2050 due to a decrease in the amount of cement, steel, plastics, and aluminium needed. For a deep dive on how these circular economy opportunities for reducing GHG emissions manifest themselves in the built environment and mobility (passenger cars), see deep dives at the end of this chapter.
Our vision is to spread our sustainability values and help men & women to buy clothes in a more conscious way, choosing a quality and timeless styles that will endure in time. We envision MUB Collection to serve as a pilot practice bringing a new approach to the fashion sector.