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Go Green for Fashion

The 2010 film Taipei Exchanges features two sisters who run a coffee shop in Taipei. Everything inside the shop, except coffee and desserts, can be bartered for via other objects. It’s surprising, but bartering is back in vogue in modern society.

The 2010 film Taipei Exchanges features two sisters who run a coffee shop in Taipei. Everything inside the shop, except coffee and desserts, can be bartered for via other objects. It’s surprising, but bartering is back in vogue in modern society. The most talked about example is the Canadian blogger who, through a number of online trades, successfully upgraded from a single red paperclip to a two-storey house. In 2010, an American teenager managed to trade up from an out-dated cell phone to a Porsche in a series of trades on a website.

Don’t get me wrong. We are not here to talk about the fortune bartering may bring. In fact, the global economic slowdown, coupled with the powerful penetration of the Internet, has contributed to the revival of bartering. In Britain and America, many people are more willing to trade their valuable but idle items for things they need but cannot afford. Today, the majority of Hong Kong people may not feel much economic pressure. From an environmental point of view, however, our city is running a huge deficit in terms of ecological resources. According to the Hong Kong Ecological Footprint Report 2010, if everyone in the world lived a similar lifestyle to that of the Hong Kong people, we would require 2.2 Earths to sustain us. Famous bartering stories allow us to reflect on our consumption patterns. We can transform our beliefs about things that we regard as useless and disposable—perhaps they are resources that are merely undervalued. In view of the global resources shortage, we ought to make the best use of available resources. We should consume wisely and avoid creating unnecessary waste.

There are many ways to reduce our carbon footprint in our everyday lives, such as resources sharing. Many people spend a lot on magazines, books, CDs, DVDs and other entertainments. Sharing resources with others can effectively reduce our consumption. The younger generation can also make use of online platforms to gather and share resources. A friend of mine recently moved into a new house and asked for support on the Internet. His friends and family gave him many second-hand appliances, and as a result he didn’t have to spend a cent. This approach saves money and promotes an eco-friendly lifestyle. While a consumer society is driven by ownership of things, the 21st century is more about sharing. Teens love to visit social networking sites to share their lives with friends and it’s time to extend the concept of “sharing” into daily life and share resources with friends and family.

Many people may have the misconception that one has to sacrifice beauty for the environment. Yet a real fashion guru can push the envelope even further, one can create a personal brand of eco-chic style with a little creativity. In 2009, an Indian girl started the “Uniform Project”; she wore the same dress for 365 days. The challenge was to reinvent the dress by accessorising with vintage, reused or second-hand pieces donated by her friends and family. The project exemplifies what we call “sustainable fashion”. Mixing and matching old fabrics and accessories can give you a trendy new look. In recent years, many eco-fashion designers have created unique styles by using recycled fabrics and other recycled materials.

Following the latest trends is not the only way to be stylish. On the contrary, the sine qua non of fashion-forwardness is to be creative and innovative. There is a story behind everything. Reusing and recycling can help save resources, while helping to achieve a unique and personal style. Sharing resources, on the other hand, can make your life more interesting and fun. Sometimes protecting the environment requires only an appreciation of the value of things.

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