Last week we ran our first virtual swap shop in conjunction with the amazing Amber Hayward, our Dopplle Ambassador at Bath Spa University.
It was a fantastic way for us to start running our known and loved swap shops again, even if it wasn’t a physical event like it used to be. Hopefully this is just the beginning! Have a read below for Amber’s take on sustainability, fashion and how the Bath Sustainability Week went in her opinion…
When did you start educating yourself on how to reduce your impact on the environment?
I got really into sustainability when I started up the Ecosia on Campus campaign during my undergrad at Sussex. I went on to do a module on Environmental Anthropology, which inspired me to take up my masters in Environmental Humanities. Now environmental issues and sustainability are a big part of each element of my life and I set aside time to improving my knowledge of and relationship to the environment. It’s definitely a long personal process and there is still lots of room for improvement!
How did the Bath Sustainability Week work? Give us a quick run through.
With lots help from the lovely Ayse (@oztextiles) who is a textiles student, I uploaded daily workshops onto my Instagram (@simple_swaps) each day throughout the week. These were all based around working on repairing, reviving and re-loving clothes in your wardrobe and were all teaching beginner-friendly skills to help provide alternatives to buying new clothes. Each evening I uploaded a ‘drop’ of free, preloved clothes into the virtual event group within the Dopplle app, which had formed my float of clothes from physical swaps last year. Those within the group were allocated coins for clothes they uploaded to allow them to request the items from the drops, as well as each other’s, even if they were new to the app and hadn’t yet earned any coins. We had a secure drop off/collection point at Scoop Wholefoods which allowed swaps to take place within lockdown guidelines.
Why did you decide to run the Sustainability Week last week?
I ran monthly physical clothes swaps on campus last year as part of my Simple Swaps campaign which was aimed at making sustainability more accessible to students. This year I was elected as the SU Sustainability Rep and part of my role is holding events and campaigns for students to get involved with. I was really keen to keep up the momentum and expand the community from my swaps last term and thought that it was a great opportunity to find a new home for my float of clothes, encourage more Bath Spa students to start using Dopplle and share some skills and information in a fun way that was accessible and easy to engage with.
What was your favourite part about the week long event?
Engagement has definitely been down this term given the circumstances and having to do everything online, so it was really nice to see people getting really stuck into the event. Also, I learned so much from Ayse’s tutorials and can’t wait to give it a go myself!
Why do you think sustainable fashion is important?
I really just think that the best thing you can do is take some time to do a bit of research. If you are going to buy something new, have a deeper look into the brand and really get to the bottom of their supply chain and materials. Obviously it is the big companies who are to blame for the massive social and environmental impacts associated with the fashion industry, but once you understand why and get to know the alternatives it is much easier to avoid and to feel compelled to stand up to it. Otherwise it is so easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless against such a large-scale issue.
As it is very topical at the moment, for you, why is it important not to take part in Black Friday?
It is a hard question because obviously, for some people, Black Friday is a good opportunity to buy items that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford, or something they’ve been saving up for. However, the concept of Black Friday in the hands of big companies is just wrong. In the context of clothing these items have been on a journey from raw material extraction, textile creation, design, garment assembly, shipment, modelling, marketing, etc. There is no way that each of the people along the way can have been paid fairly for that item to then be sold at a fraction of its original (perhaps already too low) price. It encourages people to overspend on items they don’t need and returned clothing is often sent to landfill or burnt, and a large proportion of the clothes that are kept will also end up going to landfill. People are so pressured into buying and spending over Black Friday and the only people who really gain from it are those at the very top, while those at the bottom are even more negatively impacted and the consumers are ‘used’ in the process. Although there is nothing wrong with choosing to buy an item you really love while it is on sale, I personally choose not to engage with Black Friday marketing tactics by just not looking. I love seeing some of the ethical brands I follow choosing to donate to great causes rather than cut prices at this time of year.
What has been the best part of being a Dopplle Ambassador so far?
I’m so happy to have found a way to continue my clothes swap events this year while physical swaps haven’t been an option. It’s great being connected with people with similar interests and having a fun and productive form of procrastination to turn to!
Thank you again to Amber and Ayse for all your hard work! Stay tuned for more virtual swap shops at other universities and colleges in the new year!