What they do …

12. Elisa

Today’s story is about Elisa. I got to know her in Zwolle, where the Husband and I attended a (very) small church/community, called ‘De Gids’ (‘The Guide’, but an abbreviation of ‘Gemeente In De School’, ‘Community In The School’). In my eyes, she is a positive and happy girl, with a big heart and a really (REALLY!) big love for her birthday! She has had personal struggles, yet made the best of her situation and that has changed the way in which she cares about the world.
Enjoy her story!

“About six years ago,
when I just got back from being an au-pair in England, something changed in my life. I was tired. And I didn’t know why. I didn’t know what to do about it. And that’s actually how it all started.

I began looking for alternative ways to help me, after I had done so many tests in hospitals that all led to nothing. I stumbled upon a doctor who was convinced sugar was the problem. Sugar was the bad guy that made me tired. So I went on a diet. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, lots of water. And though it eventually wasn’t the very thing that caused my fatigue, it helped a lot. I became very excited about everything organic, ecologic, natural, fair-trade, sustainable, environmentally friendly. You name it, I googled it.

Later I found out, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was in fact the thing that sucked the energy out of me. It was quite a struggle at first, for months at a time I just lay in bed watching TV, struggled with depressing thoughts and emotions. Eventually it got better, through a lot of hard work. I still have it now, but it’s doable, and I really like my life right now.

Though I don’t have a lot of money, I make do with what I have. I, like no other, know how much sustainable goods cost, and that it’s not always possible to make the better choice, but I’ve always found switching things up is a good thing anyway.
I really liked the fact that, the things that proved to be good for me, were also good (or at least better) for the world around me. So I started expanding, and not just focussing on food, but also washing detergents, green energy, clothes, etc.

Some of my favourite items I got from a clothes swap!

Now, I absolutely love clothes. You can ask anyone I know and they’ll confirm that I have a very big closet full of them. But I wanted to stop buying clothes that were made in third-world countries by people who don’t get nearly as much as they deserve. I have to admit I felt very guilty for buying them. And I didn’t want that anymore. That’s where thrift stores and clothes swapping come in.

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I have always loved thrift stores. There is something about them. You can feel the life the stuff have had. You can see it too! But if you’re critical and put some time and effort in it, then it’s doable, and in my opinion, a lot of fun.
And clothes swapping is a great way to change your wardrobe and have a great night at the same time. Just get some (girl)friends together, some drinks and food, and everyone takes the clothes that they don’t really like anymore, but still look good. Some of my favourite items I got from a clothes swap!

I liked thrift shopping so much even, that I started volunteering at my local thrift store. They say “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and you can really witness that there. It’s what I love most about working there. To see a smile appear on someone’s face about something they found, that someone else got tired of, but realised it could still make someone else happy.

It is always a lot of fun to see the look on people’s faces when we tell them it’s free.

Through working there I found another organisation that I joined. They’ve gone back to a sort of bartering. For instance, you like to babysit, or bake cakes, and you’re very good at it. You can offer that service, post it on their website. If someone needs a babysitter or a cake for a party, they can ask you to do it and pay you, with a kind of money, that’s isn’t actually money. We call them “bucks”, and you can spend those “bucks” on something you need yourself. So you can do something you love (I love making cakes) and you get something in return that you are unable to do yourself (maybe have someone over to put up some shelves), without spending money. Which, I think we can agree on, everyone loves. I’ve earned my first few bucks by hauling my sewing machine to, coincidentally, the thrift store I work at, and fixing and repairing some clothes for people who bring them by. It is always a lot of fun to see the look on people’s faces when we tell them it’s free.

I’m sure I’ll never stop trying to find ways to make the world a better place.
Even if it’s just the little things.”