The Waterside Clothes Swaps launch.

Clothes swaps – at last!!! 

Been on my list to get going in my area for so long and now they are here!

I love clothes swaps, with a passion. Let’s face it, we all love new clothes, but our planet doesn’t, so clothes swaps are the answer. 

They are also the answer to many other issues we face in our modern society.  So what part do they play in regenerative culture?

On 29th January a team of people came together in the waterside, New Forest UK for the launch of Waterside Clothes swaps.  Under my guidance as the only member of the team who had been to a clothes swap before, and with the help of Natalie Haigh, who is a passionate crafter and bag maker, we wanted to test the water and see who would come. 

The hall was quite small, to keep the costs down for the first one, we then got sponsorship from the waterside women – a local community group to help cover the costs of running the first one.

The volunteers numbered around 15, and everyone got stuck in to help make the day run perfectly! The Waterside Party Kit hire came along, although Katie who runs it spent more time helping out than promoting her party kit, but it becomes addictive seeing what clothes are coming through the door!

So how do we run the clothes swaps? 

During the week before we collect clothes from the community, so some presorting can take place and for those who can’t make it on the day, but wish to contribute. 

In the morning of the event we take clothing donations, we get as many of the clothes on rails as we can, so it has a shopping feel to the swap. 

Once we are open, it is free to come in – all our welcome – and then everything is free, regardless of whether you have anything to swap.  A team of volunteers sort clothes as they come in, and help people find their way round the different sections. A changing room is available, so much fun can be had trying things on!

Teas, coffee, and cakes were also free, and the Waterside Food Project brought along supermarket surplus bread, cakes and flowers, all again free. 

How many things do you go to where it is totally free? 

We did have a donation pot out, a give what you feel approach, and we ended up with just over £200!  I think people really loved the clothes swap. They are asking for the next one. 

So back to regenerative culture.  If we wish to really ‘save the planet’ to ensure this beautiful world of ours, for there to be a place for us within it, we have to dramatically change the way we do things, the way we demand things, and value everything and everyone. 

What does that have to do with clothes? Everything, there are enough pieces of clothing produced each year for each person to have 14 new items – or 100 billion items. Each one involving fossil fuels in the manufacture, even natural fibres, have far more connection to the fossil fuel industries than is commonly recognized. Of course all of these items of clothing are not evenly distributed around the world, with many never ever seeing a brand new piece of clothing with others seeing far more than their fair share. 

We often see talk of food poverty, but very rarely is clothing poverty talked about, but both go hand in hand. The drivers behind social media and fast fashion also can have very serious effects on our mental health. 

If we can change the way we view clothing, and understand its impact on our world and all the lives that inhabit our biosphere we can all win. 

There are far too many issues for me to cover in this blog post, and really I wanted to start by celebrating the success of our first Waterside Clothes swap. Please do some research if you feel you would like to understand more about the impact of textiles. 

And if that feels too much for you, then at least try to make your next purchases from a charity shop, or search out your local clothes swap – and if there are none, MAKE IT HAPPEN in your area!

Genius Cleaning cloths

A little bit of zero waste genius.

When I had my first son 18 years ago I was very determined to use cloth nappies, which I did, along with cloth wipes.  Of course I did the same for my second son. 

The reusable wipes were the thing that really inspired me, cloth wipes can be for anything not just cute little faces!

But super soft baby wipes are not very good for cleaning the dishes – just not abrasive enough for stuck on burnt food. So I had a think…….

Using what I have is a principle I stick to as much as possible, and my first cleaning cloths were made from towelling and fleece, and as I did not have an overlocker I had to sew and turn and then sew again. They were bulky and not easy to make and of course fleece is a shedder of micro fibres, I would not dream of using fleece now for anything. 

I needed to think again, so using what I had I turned to t-shirt material, bingo! They work on any surface – soft side for polishing and rough side for scrubbing.  At this point I was just making them for our own use and for friends and family. 

Not long after I had my second son I was able to afford an overlocker and that changed everything !

The cloths became super quick to make and so they could be made and sold in bulk. I then got involved in clothes swaps, and was able to source huge quantities of old t-shirts that no one was going to wear any more, towels sourced from charity shops that were overwhelmed with them and we were in business. 

Genius Cleaning Cloths

Everyone who was given some would utter ‘oh that’s genius’  hence the name – Genius Cleaning Cloths.  And when a school cleaner ordered enough to keep a whole school clean to save on using the planet’s resources as well as the school budget, production increased yet again. 

So apart from being made from upcycled materials what else makes these genius cleaning cloths?

Did I mention that I still have some of the ones I made around 15 years ago? Did I mention they can be washed over and over again – even on hot washes if needed. Or that they can go in your home composting when you finally finish with them? 

We don’t use labels or any other unnecessary packaging and they are completely plastic free!

And they are not perfectly rectangular, we don’t have seconds, working to make the best use of the materials if they need to be a bit shorter, or if I sew a little wonky down one edge we still love them, they still do a perfectly good job. 

Rethinking the need for perfection

We sell them in packs of 10 for £6, to reduce shipping impact they can be ordered in sets of 3 or 6 packs of ten.  

If you would like to try some for yourself you can order via this link https://watercressqueen.company.site/products/Genius-Cleaning-Cloths-in-packs-of-10-p421105244

Any questions please do email me . 


If your local zero waste store would like to be a stockist drop me a email, most zero waste stores who stock them sell them singularly, or you can sell them in packs of ten.

Even the super clean and fussy mother in law would use them when she was still with us.