“Fairly Dressed Chocolate” is a project funded by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ programme.
The project involved 36 young people from 6 different countries in a multicultural experience where they reflected and learnt about sustainability at large, including not only environmental matters but also human matters, as the importance of fair trade and the damages of fast fashion. That is where the project acts: create a safe environment where people with different backgrounds, cultures and points of view can share experiences, learn and appreciate the process.
All the material in this article was produced by participants during the project.
Objectives of the project are:
- Boost the understanding of all meanings of sustainability and sustainable lifestyle.
- Increase the awareness on own life style and how it relates to sustainability.
- Encourage competences (knowledge, attitudes, skills) and practices for being more sustainable in life as well as being vehicles of disseminations of such purpose and action.
- Grow awareness and action on own consumerist/consumer attitude and its effect on sustainability.
- First, get to know what fast fashion and colonial goods mean and wonder about their sustainability, ethic, political and economic value. Then, widen the awareness on production chains of fast fashion and colonial goods and relative effects.
- Give several chances of volunteering for local organisations enrolled and committed to sustainability in a holistic perspective.
Many times, young people already enrolled in sustainable lifestyle, maybe volunteering for cleaning forests of beaches, caring about storing the garbage properly and reducing the use of plastic, and much more, are consumers – or consumerists- of fast fashion (cheap pieces of cloths) and colonial goods (i.e. chocolate, coffee and spices) not aware of the unsustainable chain of exploitation and abuse which such items produce and to which they become supporter without even knowing it. By simply reducing the shopping of such clothes, for example, buying second hands ones and by using fair trade chocolate and coffee, they can actively grow a fair economy that guarantees justice to people. Together with the care for nature and the reduced use of natural resources, youth can lead their communities toward a fully sustainable future. During the YE, participants explored the meaning of holistic sustainability, focusing on clothing and colonial goods, knowing their history and contemporary situation.
During the Youth Exchange Fairly Dressed Chocolate we worked out sustainability with a special focus on the supply chain of the clothing industry. When a cloth is too cheap to us, somebody else has already paid hard for it. The true cost of fast fashion is often slavery, pollution and overconsumption. Let’s all be conscious consumers: let’s buy less and better goods!
During a Youth Exchange you live in an intercultural community for a time, and we did it for 12 days. Participants from Lithuania, Italy, Spain, Romania and France, staff from Italy, Germany and Lithuania, volunteers from Poland, Bangladesh, Portugal, Estonia, Belgium, Hungary, etc. We have all challenged our comfort zone, and the magic happened. Together!
TIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE AND COMMUNICATION:
While having the Youth Exchange Fairly Dressed Chocolate we have crossed the concept as well as the practices of sustainability at large. We have come out with few tips to make our lifestyle actually more sustainable, while communicating about it with others. This is the result of such a 12-day experiential reflection.
During the Youth Exchange Fairly Dressed Chocolate we have focused on chocolate, coffee and tea. We have found out that these daily goods haven’t overcome the colonial era yet, in fact we have them on our tables while those who produce them work under slavery. Shall we renounce having our morning coffee? No, we shall simply choose the fairtrade one. Let’s all be conscious consumers: let’s buy less and better goods!
Article written by participants for local newspaper
The participants of the Fairly Dressed Chocolate project engaged in a hiking activity in the area of Passignano sul Trasimeno. This activity consisted not only in taking a long and exciting walk in this beautiful area of the lake, but above all it gave the young participants in the project the opportunity to engage in the collection of waste they found along their route.
Armed with rubbish bags and plastic gloves, they split into three groups and started working hard despite the midday sun and steep climbs.
The collection of rubbish kept them busy for about three hours during which the youngsters took a break to recharge and regenerate.
During their walk they came into contact with different types of waste such as plastic bottles, cigarette butts, glass bottles and masks – new rubbish in the Covid era.
At the end of the course, the participants reconvened in groups and each group made a presentation exploring the topic of separate waste collection by focusing on the composition time of each waste collected.
For example, the group work showed that it takes between 100 and 1000 years for plastic to decompose, while glass takes a few decades. This means that glass is reusable and more sustainable than plastic because the latter decomposes more easily.
In spite of a large amount of waste collected, a group of children managed to create a work of art with a deep meaning and an effective and immediate explanation.
Everyone was able to understand how important the topic of separate waste collection is, which is still a great challenge for many countries, including Italy.
The participants came to the conclusion that in order for there to be responsible joint action, it is important to raise the awareness of the very young generations, so as to create model citizens.