Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham


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Swishers descend on Goldsmiths University for some clothes swapping

Friday the 13th might sound like a risky kind of day to hold an event. But despite being thrown a few unlucky curve balls at the last minute, we pulled through with flying colours, holding a really successful Swishing Event! In case you’re not sure what the swish is all about, it’s a fun social event where you bring your pre-loved clothes to swap them for someone else’s… for free!

All quite before the swishers move in

All quiet before the swishers move in

Lewisham Council, in its endeavour to raise awareness about the huge problem of textile waste, joined forces with Goldsmiths University students who brought a fantastic amount of energy into this campaign.

So, what is the problem?

In the UK, consumers throw away over a million tonnes of textiles every year. All of it could have been reused or recycled instead of going to waste. It’s the equivalent of throwing away £238 million every year. Crazy!  It’s just as crazy to learn that to manufacture one pair of jeans and a t-shirt takes about 20,000 litres of water.

Both students of Goldsmiths University and Lewisham residents came to swap their clothes. At times the change room had a queue as there was a frenzy of trying things on!

Both students of Goldsmiths University and Lewisham residents came to swap their clothes. At times the change room had a queue as there was a frenzy of trying things on!

Yet, there’s also thousands of ways to upcycle textiles, reuse them, swap them, or simply recycle them by putting them in a textile bank, click here for textile bank locations: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/textile-recycling/Pages/Textile-recycling-banks.aspx

This happy swisher had her eye on this shawl since the promotional events earlier in the week and was thrilled to be it's new owner at Friday's event. She was so happy, she came back later in the day for a second swish!

This happy swisher had her eye on this shawl since the promotional events earlier in the week and was thrilled to be it’s new owner at Friday’s event. She was so happy, she came back later in the day for a second swish!

Our swishing event, promoted through posters, information stalls and through social media was held in the Stretch Bar of Goldsmiths University. To the sound of groovy beats and strobe lighting, we had over 50 people come to the swishing event, or see what it was all about.

We took every opportunity to talk about what the event was all about and received great feedback about the concept and event, with 'When's the next one?' being the most asked question!

We took every opportunity to talk about what the event was all about and received great feedback about the concept and event, with ‘When’s the next one?’ being the most asked question!

A great time was had by all and many of the swishers walked away with armfuls of new-to-them clothes and big smiles!


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Free clothes anyone? You’re invited!

It’s crazy to think that 20,000 litres of water is needed to produce one pair of jeans and a t-shirt. And it’s just as crazy to think one million tonnes of textiles are thrown out by consumers every year. Swapping your clothes and accessories with friends is a fun and easy way to make sure your wardrobe looks fresh but also ensures that your pre-loved clothes are being loved again.

Come along and swish, its easy!

Come along and swish, its easy!

Lewisham Council has teamed up with MA students studying at the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship from Goldsmiths University as well as Greening Goldsmiths to put on a party to celebrate the importance of textiles.

The Swishing Party invites you to come along with your pre-loved clothes and swap them for something from our range of clothing – free! Bring a friend!

Friday, 13th of March

11am – 3pm

The Stretch Bar

Goldsmiths University


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End of season- swishing success in Lewisham

Following the success of our ‘big swish’ held in Lewisham shopping centre last year, we decided to hold three more mini ‘swishes’ in the borough at – Brockley, Grove Park and Lee Green.

Swishing is swapping – people turn up with something (in this case clothing) that they no longer want and swap with other peoples clothes that they no longer want. No money changes hands and swishes are usually a sociable event with the added benefit of reducing the need to shop and reusing clothing.

The three mini swishes were held each month from January to March with thirty residents coming along to swish items of clothing. In total twenty six items of clothing were swished and other items of clothing were handed in which we sent for reuse.

Window dressing at the swishing event

Window dressing at the swishing event

The swish in March took place at Lee Green Community Centre- whilst the sewing lesson was taking place upstairs!

Feedback about the events was very positive: “Thank you, some lovely new clothes and a fab dress for tomorrow night” & “Nice relaxed event”

Another satisfied customer

Another satisfied customer – vintage dress going to a happy swisher

We haven’t currently got any more swishes planned however you can go to http://www.swishing.com which advertise local events. If you don’t want to swish your clothes, you can always donate them to a charity shop or take them to one of our textile banks which are located across the borough. Click on the following link and find the nearest textile bank to where you live: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/other-waste-and-recycling/Pages/Textile-recycling.aspx


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Start the New Year with a Swish

What is Swishing?
Swishing really is swapping instead of shopping. No money changes hands as taking part involves turning up with items that you no longer want and swapping it with other peoples items that they no longer want. Swishing usually refer to clothes swapping but has now evolved to include other items such as books and furniture.

Bring, swish and go - simple

Bring, swish and go – simple

Why Swish?
It saves you money! You can get a ‘new to you’ item of clothing which is in good condition without having to spend any money. The only cost, is the item of clothing that you are giving away- which you probably didn’t want or couldn’t fit into anyway!

Any other benefits?
Yes- it can be fun and some find it quite a sociable experience! Its also environmentally friendly- you are reusing items and getting ‘new to you’ clothing reducing the need to shop!

OK, you’ve convinced me- where can I do it?
We held one mini swish at St Andrews Church in Brockley and are going to be holding another two more. Please see the following:

Swishing event Free

GrovePark community library service 27 February 4pm to 6pm

Bring some unwanted clothes to swap and freshen up your wardrobe

Mini swishing event Free

Leegate Community Centre 28 March 12 noon to 2pm

What if I don’t want to Swish but I have some old clothes that I don’t know what to do with?
You can take them to one of our textile banks which are located across the borough! Click on the following link and find the nearest textile bank to where you live: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/other-waste-and-recycling/Pages/Textile-recycling.aspx


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Lewisham shoppers bag a bargain at a ‘Big Swish’

Last Friday, the middle of Lewisham Shopping Centre was transformed into a vintage shoppers delight when the Lewisham Recycling team held a ‘Big Swish’ to raise awareness of the new textiles banks across the borough.

Big Swish 1

The middle of the shopping centre was given a ‘vintage makeover’

The term swishing refers to swopping of items, often clothes, where someone swops a garment that they no longer want with someone else’s unwanted item.

The swishing began at 10am and luckily even early visitors had a plentiful supply of quality clothes to choose from.

Big Swish 9

Bagging a bargain!

Much of the stock already on display was sourced from Lewisham’s new LMB textile banks. The quality of items on offer was very impressive, with clothing ranging from vintage garments, high street brands and designer labels.

The event was very well attended and a total of just over 80 garments were ‘swished’.  Lewisham East Member of Parliament – Heidi Alexander, also came along to show her support for textile reuse and brought along a number of ‘swishable items’.

Big Swish 6

Heidi Alexander MP at the Big Swish

Please bear in mind that textiles can still be placed into your recycling bin, but if placed in our textile banks there is a better chance of the item being reused rather than recycled. Remember – Reuse is always better than recycling!  And if you can’t get to a textile bank then there is always the option of using your local charity shop.

Details of where Lewisham textile bins are located can be found here:  https://recycleforlewisham.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/swishing-event-invite2.jpg


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Vintage reuse garments prove a hit at ‘Fashion Late’

The KFC Red dress was exhibited on the Lewisham stand. Made to raise awareness of litter, Lesoco students used old kfc packaging to create this one off.

The KFC Red dress was exhibited on the Lewisham stand. Made to raise awareness of litter, Lesoco students used old kfc packaging to create this one off.

If you ever thought that the world of textile recycle and reuse is unglamorous- its time to think again. Last Friday, the recycling team showcased a selection of vintage garments which had all been salvaged from textile bins sited across the borough at the ‘Fashion Late’ event in the Horniman Museum, Forest Hill SE23. The event, at the start of Forest Hill Fashion week, featured catwalk shows, talks, makeovers and a fashion market where the Lewisham stall displayed its reused vintage chic!

Lewisham does fashion- the stand exhibiting clothes sent for reuse.

Lewisham does fashion- the stand exhibiting clothes sent for reuse.

Fashionista’s from across the borough saw up close the type of garments which people send for reuse. Items of clothing placed into the textile bins are sorted by the new contractor- LMB at their East London warehouse where they are distributed across the UK and beyond for Reuse. Details of where Lewisham textile bins are located can be found here:  https://recycleforlewisham.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/swishing-event-invite2.jpg

Fashion Late was a well attended event.

Fashion Late was a well attended event.

The reception for the stand was very positive but unfortunately despite a high number of requests, no one was able to buy on the day. The items are being saved for our ‘Big Swish’ event being held this Friday 27th September in Lewisham Shopping Centre. If you want to take part and have an item of clothing that is in good condition, please bring along, washed and ironed, between 10am and 4pm and you can get an item of clothing that is ‘new to you’.


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A bit of London Fashion Week comes to Lewisham

Once the media have finished clambering for stories associated with London Fashion week, they’ll turning their attention to the next big event in the fashion calendar. That will be the Big Swish Event that will be taking place in Lewisham Shopping Centre a week later.

Already the event is generating a great deal of interest and momentum with lots of people contacting the recycling team to ask about when it all starts and what kind of clothes to bring along to swish with. Several bags of quality clothing have already been collected and this week, so Councillor Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Customer Services came to our offices to give us a hand in sorting some of them out.

Councillor Susan Wise helps with sorting clothes for the swishing event.

Councillor Susan Wise helps with sorting clothes for the swishing event.

On the day of the event, we are planning on having a selection of children’s, men’s and women’s clothing to swish with. Anybody can take part in the event, you simply need to turn up with an item of clothing that you no longer want or need or that’s been sitting in the wardrobe for some time. Just bring this along and then simply choose another item as a replacement – and voilà! you have swished. Couldn’t be easier

The event is being staged to raise the profile of textile recycling, and whilst we collect textiles in the recycling bins, we would prefer residents to use our textile banks where there would a better chance of keeping the quality of the item intact. Residents can also choose to take textiles to charity shops if they wish.

The event will be taking place at the site of the old Ponti’s restaurant in the shopping centre between 10am and 4pm on the 27th September. 10 other local authorities have also been invited as they were part of the huge tendering exercise that Lewisham Council led on that saw all the authorities getting a much better price for all the textiles collected. Heidi Alexander MP will also be lending her support to the event and will be popping in around 12.30pm. Details of where all our banks are located can be found below.

Find a bank near you and drop off your textiles.

Find a bank near you and drop off your textiles.

Please come along with clothes that you would like to swish with and enjoy the fun day out.