The idea of sustainable living sounds interesting as it is about buying eco-friendly, local stuff, and reducing waste. But this system cannot function in isolation. It requires the coming together of like-minded people. The coastal state of Goa, which is known for its natural beauty, is also emerging as a hub for people from various strata of society with initiatives on living sustainably.
A recent trend is that of jumble or garage sales where where miscellaneous second-hand stuff is brought under one roof for sale. Individuals, groups and organisations, are making efforts to organise events that bring people together for a cause. These sales encourage people to donate, swap, buy second-hand for a cheaper rate, and even earn money by giving away stuff.
This is no longer restricted to books but involves accessories, utensils, and electronics. These sales are also acting as a medium to dissipate reservations for second-hand clothing.
“I’ve been an avid shopper at jumble sales in Goa. Through the years, I’ve picked up rare collectibles and clothes at throwaway prices. With the dawn of sustainable fashion, jumble sales outline a path for those confused or unsure about re-wear,” says educator Ivy Pereira.
She loves to shop at jumble sales and adds, “I keep an eye out for electronic items as well because recycling e-waste is our next challenge.”
Others like Aira Mirchandani do not like to shop but have been volunteering for more than five years. She says, “Jumble sales are a great place, especially if you are setting up your home. I found a couple of interesting books at one sale and an interesting piece of needlework at another, but I didn’t buy it, rather showed it to someone I knew would appreciate it and they bought it.” She’s also co-founder of Naree Artisan Movement, Goa, that makes handmade stuff.
1. Bookworm Goa
Bookworm Library, which is based in Panaji, Goa, focuses on children’s books and conducts outreach programmes in schools and communities. They started the jumble sale in 2010.
“The idea was to take library books to children who could not or would not come to the library because of a lack of social or cultural capital. It was for our outreach work,” says Sujata Noronha, the co-founder.
They held their annual jumble sale in February, proceeds from which will go towards their outreach work. It is one of the most popular jumble sales in the state, with people generously donating books and other household items.
Noronha says that people even mark the Bookworm Jumble Sale on their calendars and wait to give away their stuff, a major chunk of which is books. The collected books and things are then streamlined in categories, priced by an army of volunteers, an event usually held once a year at a public place in Panaji.
They use the sale to raise funds that enable them to buy age-appropriate high-quality books for their users and run the costs of an outreach programme. Every year, this outreach programme benefits over 1,000 children. In their tenth year of fundraising, they run six outreach centers.
“Friends, family, young volunteers, and the Bookworm team work tirelessly to organise and run the sale, and it would not be possible without that support. Finally, the people who come to buy and believe in the value of repurposing, reusing, recycling while also supporting a cause, making the sale worthwhile,” elaborates Noronha.
It was started by Vijaya Josephine Pais in 2017. She has also founded Offbeat Goa, a company that promotes sustainable travel and offbeat experiences in Goa.
Vijaya states that the idea of the garage sale came to her when she was on a closet clearing spree. “A friend and I decided to give away our wardrobe together. So, I put up a post asking others if they had nice clothes to give away too. We ended up with a whole load of things and put them up for sale,” says Vijaya.
The money from these sales goes to various charities in Goa. “We have given to orphanages, women’s shelters, animal shelters, and old age homes,” adds Vijaya.
These garage sales are held mainly in North Goa on the last Sunday of every month as part of the New Earth Gathering—a healthy, holistic, vegan community market. Clothes, accessories, books, shoes, home decor etc. are some items for sale. For one sale event, they get as many as 20 cartons of stuff. “We have raised about Rs 2 lakh since the inception of this sale in 2016,” informs Vijaya.
She adds, “We keep the price low because we would rather have the items move quickly. It’s always a treat finding hi-end brands at affordable rates! People also know what to expect.”
This initiative helps the environment by reducing waste and boosts the local economy. “Fast fashion is killing the environment; it’s gotten too easy to consume with online shopping being so accessible. We buy new clothes, wear them a few times and chuck them. All of these clothes eventually end up in landfills. People are now more aware of the impact of their consumerist choices, plus they can’t resist such an amazing bargain. Also, the act of recycling keeps money in the local economy and supports the green living movement,” elaborates Vijaya.
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Environment engineer Suneita Narayana, who goes by the name ‘Stylewaali’, conducted three cloth swap events in Goa last year. It was probably the first time that the state witnessed an event where people swapped clothes which were barely/gently used and in good condition, and learned about slow fashion.
“I talked about mindfulness in consumption, how to make fashion circular, which means to give new life to old clothes by putting them back into the consumption cycle instead of disposing. By giving away clothes to swaps and second-hand use, you are increasing their life span by nine months. My talk also focused on how to make this a lifestyle choice,” says Stylewaali.
For the second swap event which was organised with brand manager and TEDx Panaji organiser, Dattaprasad Shetkar in July 2019, they sourced items from designers like Wendell Rodricks, Malini Ramani, Stephany, People Tree, and others. It also helped them in getting more visibility.
Regarding the concept of a jumble sale, Stylewaali says it is not only sustainable and pocket-friendly, but also brings like-minded people together.
“It brings about a much-needed mindset shift in many of us who were previously not open or even averse to the idea of wearing and buying pre-owned items.”
4. SST Goa
SST stands for—Sale Swap Takeaway—a jumble sale where one can earn money by donating stuff. It was initiated by a group of friends seven months ago.
“We all had a few things that we were not willing to let go of for free—like an expensive dress, an appliance we rarely used or wedding gifts that were not to our taste. So we wondered if we could set up a model to gather such stuff from others as well, create an inventory and use it to organise the sales,” says Jane D’Souza, who started this with her friends—Blossom Rodrigues, Jolene Fernandes and Clare D’Mello.
So far, they have conducted six jumble sales in Porvorim, Mapusa, and Margao. They also retail out of Ecoposro, the zero-waste store. They collect stuff from people, catalogue it accordingly, and sell it on their behalf.
“We catalogue each item, put it up for sale, take a percentage of the sale, and give them the remaining amount. We charge a nominal amount per swap, and people swap like-for-like and free items are usually the same as what is in the paid section,” explains Jane.
Their sale includes clothing, footwear, home and kitchen appliances, beauty products, jewellery, accessories, garden items, plants, musical instruments, cycles, furniture, menswear, kids wear, toys, kitchen cutlery, pots and pans, books, etc. With six events, they have attracted around 300 customers, with some even pledging not to purchase any new clothing since SST Goa gives them access to so many options.
“These sales support the circular economy and banish the idea that second-hand is second-rate. I hope that we expand people’s ideas of sustainability and that they look to initiatives like these to contribute to a better tomorrow,” concludes Jane.
(Written by Arti Das and Edited by Shruti Singhal)