Shoes with five visits at the shoe repairer included in the price. Note the punch ticket under the shoe. Photo: People People.
In a world where very few things are made to last, I was happy to read about shoes that come with a built-in punch ticket for five services at a shoe-repair shop.
Now Shoes with a cause don’t really exist, since they are (still) an idea made up by designers at Swedish People People. They read a report about the sometimes extremely dirty business of leather industries, written by the organisation Swedwatch . This led to the idea of designing shoes that say goodbye to the wear-and-throw tradition.
Or, as one of the brains behind the shoes, Per Brickstad, puts it when I call him to ask a bit more:
– We want to design sustainable things that don’t necessarily look like most sustainable things do, for people who don’t care a shit about sustainable development.
A way to fool people into acting right? Well, why not.
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A clothes library can give new life to clothes that might be old to someone else. Hanna Nyberg is one of the founders of Stockholm's first permanent clothes library. Photo: Sara Jeswani.
Most of us need to consume a lot less. That’s the advice from a group of Nobel prize winners who gathered in Stockholm earlier this year. But how? Everywhere around us we are bombarded with messages about things to buy, stuff we simply cannot do without that would make us so much more happy, creative and beautiful.
And let’s face it: humans are curious. We are attracted to novelties like bees to flowers. But what do we do when the planet simply cannot produce more and more stuff?
In Stockholm a group of persons into fasion and sustainability thought that if you can borrow books, why not borrow clothes too? They started small scale at festivals, but since September they opened their own permanent clothes library, Lånegarderoben, in Midsommarkransen in the South of Stockholm. Today they have around 160 members paying 400 Swedish kronor (about $65) for a six month membership. That gives you the right to borrow three pieces of clothes for up to three weeks before returning them and borrowing new ones.
When I visit the clothes library I meet Hanna Nyberg, who is one of the founders. She says people have found their different ways of using the library. Some come to borrow the fancier clothes for big parties and weddings. Others look for everyday clothes, like the guy who comes every three weeks to borrow new casual jeans and shirts, since that eases his cravings for novelties and keeps him from shopping.
Lånegarderoben has started collaborations with designers like Lovisa Burfitt, Matilda Wendelboe, J. Lindeberg and Righteous Fashion, who sponsor the wardrobe with garments. There are also a lot of vintage clothes here.
- I really like the idea of my grandmother’s dress getting a new life here, say Hanna.
She is convinced that the idea of leasing things will spread more and more.
- We just have to hang on until people really change their behaviour. We definitely need a new attitude towards ownership.
Photo: Sara Jeswani.
Saturday happened to be the “Environmentally friendly day”, and all over Sweden the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation organised clothes swap events to highlight the environmental impacts of clothes-making, and to promote a more sustainable clothing culture. In Stockholm Saturday was also the annual Culture Night , when culture institutions open their doors, so I and a friend had decided to start our evening of culture with this event. The association Dress Of Dress On had promised a night with swapping, live music and arts.
I brought a few pieces of clothes that I’m not using anymore and went there – but was met by a loooong line of people. The organisers explained that they were very sorry, but they just could let any more people in since the hall hasn’t got room for more than 600 persons. Well, there wasn’t much to do but to gather our bags and head back towards the metro station, together with lots of others in the same situation… But passing a small square opening up between the houses, we bumped into the biggest spontaneous clothes-swapping party I’ve ever seen! People had just brought their clothes there, spread them out on benches and pavements and happily shared what they had.
A spontaneous gathering of clothes-swappers!
According to a new report each Swede throws about eight kilos of clothes in the garbage every year. Supposedly much of these clothes could be used by someone else. Another aspect of this is the resources that are used to make clothes. For example it takes about 11000 litres of water to produce a pair of jeans.
During the Saturday “guerilla” clothes swap session it was interesting to see how people weren’t only happy to find new garments, but also overjoyed by the fact that others wanted what they had brought themselves.
I left that square with a big smile… and an elegant black dress.
Photo: Ola Lindberg/Flickr.
In Sweden we’ve for a long time had a system of getting money back on returned aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles. Returning your empty cans and bottles has become a normal behaviour for most Swedes. Every year about 950 million aluminum cans are returned and recycled and we now get 1 Swedish krona (about 10 Eurocent) back on every can.
Now five researchers at Borås University are trying to find out if giving people money in return for old clothes could be a good idea.
Every year millions of garments are thrown away, and it’s pretty clear that most Swedes consume too much clothes, they write. The mountain of rejected clothes just keeps groing and just a very tiny part is recycled.
One way to make the mountain of clothes waste shrink a bit is to offer costumers a return deposit if they bring in their old clothes to the giant department store Gekås in Ullared.
The project, which will go on for three years, will also try to discover more about why consumers act like we do. What is thrown away, do people give away their old garments, sell them, remake or exchange them with others?
– The “wear and throw away” attitude is a societal problem, and therefore this research feels very meaningful, says Karin M. Ekström, who is a professor in marketing, looking specifically on consumer behaviour.