Bali Swap is a community initiative where clothing and accessories are swapped with friends and the larger Bali community who come to exchange pre-loved items of fashion, in an event where there is no monetary transaction, only love for the environment. More notably, strangers come together to exchange their clothes, but go back home having made new friends and found better purpose for their pre-loved clothes.
Today with so much knowledge and education about environmental damage and climate crisis, we know that each one of us is contributing to the crisis by the daily choices we make. One of them is how we individually buy and dispose the clothes we purchase, especially since they are cheap and momentarily trendy, sold to us with the promise of disposability not longevity. How often we have bought clothes that we wear once or twice and swiftly forgotten about them, or worse, put them in a bin. This has led us to live in a world of ‘suffocation’ where we are suffocated by the stuff we buy, hoard and then mindlessly dispose. This has resulted, as stated by the Ellen McArthur Foundation, that a garbage-truck full of clothes are being disposed in landfills every second!
Bali Swap was born out of a need to create awareness about our individual purchasing habits, about our obsession with newer and newer, more and more and bigger and better—all of which are contributing to environmental degradation. The idea of doing a clothes swap was to engage the younger generation especially, about the power they can harness to redress a faulty consumerist system. Bali Swap has fundamental clarity in its mission statement- individual responsibility that leads to collective change. It encourages people not to throw away clothes, instead come in friendship and swap them so that their pre-loved clothes can be loved by another; that we become collective caretakers of extending the lifetime of the products we buy.
Bali Swap started four years ago, the brainchild of Italian born, Bali inhabitant- Daniela, founder and owner of Blue Bear Skate Park in Ubud. “ Clothing swap helps people to understand the difference between "end-of-use" and "end-of-life" items and the urgency to recycle with love the "end-of-use" items, so that they don’t end up in landfills” Says Daniela. “We believe in respecting our clothes, respecting our wallets so we don’t squander resources that can be used and re-used with love and respect for our environment.”
One of the most endearing and joyful part of Bali Swap has been the community engagement that brings together people from different walks of life. After all, Bali is a cultural cauldron with people from all over the world who live side-by-side with the local Indonesian community. In Bali Swap we celebrate the different cultures whilst we recognise that even with our differences, what is common to us is our humanity. It is this ethos that brings people for this event with a common belief- we all live in a sharing economy.
“To me, swapping is not just about the fun we can have while caring for our environment. It goes much deeper than that. It is about respect and value for things that were once treasured by another- whether they were valued for style, culture or for their eco-worthiness. Besides, there is no need to waste money in fast fashion because you can save money and the environment if you simply start with a wardrobe swap party with your friends !” says co-founder Dominique, a mother of two, Entrepreneur and nature enthusiast: She and her husband Ivan Diyose, a renowned filmmaker have been at the forefront of championing environmental causes, especially the swap culture amongst their peers and younger generation of Indonesians who are increasingly curious about sustainability. “As a filmmaker, I recognize how powerful the medium is to disseminate, educate and inspire the younger generation to make mindful choices in their daily lives” says Ivan. “ Every medium on ground and on-air must be harnessed to engage people in this dialogue about sustainability.”
One of the invaluable learnings about Bali Swap has been, apart from the joy of swapping clothes, is the space the initiative creates to showcase local and international music, art, photography, food and culture. Blue Bear Skate Park, through the years became an artistic hub for some of the finest Indonesian musicians to come perform and display their talent. The day of Bali Swap was no less. It became a joyfully extravaganza of Indonesian rock music, Brooklyn hip-hop, traditional tattooing, photography exhibition of Indonesian children by a Peruvian photographer and several art and craft activities.
“ Mindful and conscious consumption is a joyful experience that does away with guilt and greed so often associated with fast fashion buying sprees. BaliSwap is a reminder that when we add connectivity, and compassion for the environment to our wardrobe mix- it is a deeply fulfilling experience” says co-founder Bandana Tewari, fashion journalist and sustainability activist.
Bali Swap believes in the happiness that comes from looking after people and the planet, from being delightful custodians of our community and environment. But most of all, it believes in small changes that lead to big, meaningful impact.
“ Be the change you want to see in the world” Mahatma Gandhi. Now this is the Bali Swap mantra. (text by Bandana Tewari)
For the fifth edition of Bali Swap I photographed a group of very interesting people who shared with me their thoughts on " ¿why sustainable fashion is so important?"