Spring cleaning? Swap, not shop, this season

Dayna Camilleri Clarke Hands up, who has a few items at home that have never been used or worn and remain lurking at the back of a cupboard?

Whilst most of us are guilty of an impulsive purchase, a change in taste or stashing away an unwanted gift, have you ever wondered what you could do with your clutter? One such Facebook group has just the solution. “Swap women’s everything” has been taking the islands by storm. The active community sees over 17 thousand local women posting their unwanted goods and swapping items with like-minded individuals. So, from gift sets and perfumes to plants and even trading skills such as haircuts and yoga classes, one can really find everything. 

Group founder Cecilia Martinetto is delighted with the page’s success. She explained her main inspiration to set up the group to VAMP. “The main inspiration came from a book: Save Cash, Save the Planet, which opened my eyes to the importance of recycling, decluttering and living in a more minimalistic way. Not to mention the importance of the environment, mental well-being and the benefit for your wallet too”. VAMP editor Dayna caught up with Cecilia to find out more!

What led to you setting up the swap page?

 First of all, I need to thank my family, which has taught me the importance of recycling, sharing, re-using and living more minimally. I was born in the countryside of Northern Italy, surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes. Most of the food I ate was from my grandparents’ fields (vegetables, meat, cheese, eggs, potatoes and more). We often had extra production, so we shared our goodies with our neighbours, who also shared their fruits or veggies with us. This fact greatly impacted my life and way of thinking. 

Two years ago, I read the inspirational book “Save Cash and Save the Planets”, which opened my eyes even more to the importance of recycling, decluttering and living in a more minimalistic way. What’s more, after four years living in Malta, I wanted to refresh my wardrobe but being in a small penthouse studio apartment, I needed to find a way when I could fit any more clothes. So I decided to try to swap them….thinking that someone else would appreciate them!

Why do you think it is important? 

In a nutshell, three key reasons come to mind. Firstly, sustainability. Secondly, to save money and, finally, decluttering. I know getting rid of clothes can be difficult. We tend to keep items that don’t fit because we hope we can squeeze into them again someday, or we’re worried we’ll gain weight and end up needing them. However, we also paid good money for these items, and parting with clothing that is in excellent condition, even if we donate it to a good cause, it is challenging.

Do you think people who are swapping care about sustainability, or is it more to save money?

I guess 80% of the people are swapping to save money and for decluttering reasons, while a 20% of the people are doing it for the environment.

What have the reactions been?

Once the group launched, I immediately noticed an extremely huge interest from every member. The more time passed, the more open-minded and interesting people I met, so I decided to give the possibility of swapping services too… trust me, this has saved me a lot of money! I offered, for example, a Spanish class for a haircut. Other people are swapping yoga classes for food, beauty treatments, photo session and so on… Swapping became super popular this year. Before, people were shy to trade, reuse and recycle. Now it’s a real trend. 

What are the most unusual items you have seen being swapped?

I would have to say..condoms!

What items cannot be swapped?

Medicine and drugs.

Why just women?

We feel safer, and there is more confidence among women. I wouldn’t upload photos of bras or myself wearing a dress if in the group there were unknown men. I feel, allowing men here will ruin our awesome vibe. We surveyed the group asking if we should have allowed men in the group. 99% of the women replied “no”.

What more could be done to support swapping initiatives? 

It would be fantastic if businesses if more businesses were to collaborate with the ‘Swap FB Platform’ to organize events.

Do you have any plans for different groups?

The group is going really well, and I am not planning to create any new ones, for now. However, I would love to start a trend of ‘swap events’, maybe in collaboration with open-minded businesses. So to any business owner reading this article and interested in the idea, please do reach out to me!