Out from the gloomy cloud that is the financial crisis has emerged a bright new way of thinking. Purse strings may be tight and stomachs knotted in anticipation of the precarious next paycheque, but women across the world are determined not to let the stormy climate get them down. And what better way to lift the spirit than a brand new dress or a pair of shoes?

Well, perhaps not brand new. After all, we can’t shut our eyes and pretend the world hasn’t descended into an economic nightmare. Women across the globe have discovered ‘Swishing‘ – an event that calls upon women of all ages to bring items from their wardrobe they don’t wear anymore, and swap those items for something else. It’s the guilt-free answer to updating your look.

Look Good and Look After the Environment

Not only is it bank account friendly, Swishing has environmental benefits, too. It was founded by Futerra, the sustainability communications agency, to promote ethical shopping, and makes people aware of our wasteful, throwaway-fashion culture. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Britain throws away 2 million tonnes of clothes every year.

Of course, unwanted clothes can always be taken to a local charity shop. There’s something very satisfying about clearing out a cupboard and dropping off an overflowing bag of goodies at Oxfam, smug in the knowledge that you have done a good deed. But you still need the cash to replace what you’ve thrown out. A little selfish, maybe, but Swishing seems to be the far more inviting option for recycling clothes. London ‘Swisher’, Suzy Roberts from Farringdon, says: “I love the idea that my clothes are going to be recycled, rather than chucked into a landfill. Sometimes I find something that I really like, but it’s not in my size, which is a downside to Swishing. But I have come away with some lovely things.”

Swishing Etiquette

Anyone can organise a Swishing event, whether at home or in a bar where Swishers can enjoy a few drinks and nibbles beforehand, but there are a few rules:

Everyone must bring at least one clean item to the event.

Attendees should be given time (about an hour) to browse the Swishing merchandise before the free-for-all begins.

There must be a five-minute warning before Swishing starts.

Swishers can leave with as many items as they like, but cannot claim an item before Swishing has officially started.

And finally, although Swishing generates a ‘smash-and-grab’, ‘first come, first serve’ approach to shopping, there should be no biting, scratching or shoving to claim your prize.

Perhaps it’s time for shopaholics to throw away the credit cards and get their thrills from not spending.