“Change clothes” in Altona is easy for the wallet – and for the environment

Buy. Buy. Buy. Until the closets overflow and you no longer know where you got what from. Decide what you are going to use it for. Sabine Starke-Wulff shows that things can be done differently without making big sacrifices. The 56-year-old is leading the climate protection project “Change clothes” on Missundestrasse (Altona-Nord). A store where customers do not buy, they exchange. Good for the wallet and for the climate.

The principle sounds complicated, but it’s actually quite simple: Customers can register in the store with a username. At the start, they are credited with an exchange account with three “fair shares”. This is the currency of “exchange”. Each product has a value in “fair shares” – which people have previously determined for the goods they have given away. “If someone takes something, fairshares in our system are transferred from the one who took it to the one who brought it. As a result, we are in a constant cycle.”

The concept works. 900 customers have already registered since opening in January 2020. Around 5000 items are currently offered on the white shelves of the store. From clothes to toys, books and jewelry to kitchen utensils. Up to 700 articles are added each week. About 500 go out again.

Sabine is proud of her project. After all, you can save an average of eight kilos of CO₂ per day. Article. “Because production, transport and disposal are no longer necessary.” But the store is not just a climate protection project. It is also a meeting place. “The change of clothes is like an island. People meet here and not only exchange things, they also exchange ideas. ” Some friendships have already developed here.

Sabine knows most people who trade in the store. It is important for her to have time for all the worries. Therefore, there is a team of eight volunteers. “We have to be three per shift, because so many customers come and want to change. We have to explain the principle to new people and want to be able to have conversations in peace, ”says the woman, who is also not paid for her work. To make ends meet, the social worker works part-time as a freelance programmer.

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Sabine came up with the idea for the barter shop many years ago. At the time, the hamburger lived in Bremen and had a neighbor who was an electrician. “When he went out on the street in our village, he was constantly asked for help. He wanted to help, but at one point it became too much. ” Sabine developed an internet platform where everyone offers what they can. The exchange of services was well received. So good that she developed the idea further. Eventually, she opened a barter shop in Bremen.

Barter shop in Hamburg with federal funding “Short paths to climate protection”

A great success. Which Sabine and her partner Thomas would definitely take to Hamburg, their hometown. They applied for the federal funding “Short Roads to Climate Protection”. The obstacle: you had to find a project sponsor. In hindsight, that’s easy. The “mill” immediately agreed. The district and culture house in Ottensen have for years been committed to sustainability – including a neighborhood garden and a do-it-yourself upcycling workshop.

Actually, Sabine and her partner would only establish the barter business in Hamburg and then move on to establishing stores elsewhere as well. But nothing came of it. On a Sunday at ten o’clock they are in their “change of clothes.” The sun is shining in. “The window was open and suddenly the ships were honking. It was just wonderful,” says Sabine.


Sabine Starke-Wulff Educated social economist and freelance programmer:

car or bicycle? Car as a passenger or e-scooter

beer or wine? Both do not. I do not drink alcohol at all.

Schnitzel or veggie burger? Veggie burger. I’m not a vegetarian, but I do not like schnitzel.

child or pet? I have a 30 year old daughter. We used to have three cats and a dog. Today, my daughter no longer lives with me, nor do I have any pets.

The North Sea or New York? Definitely the North Sea. I do not like to fly. New York is too far for me.

Kiez Club or Elphi? I want to go out dancing again. So neighboring club. Elphi does not excite me so much.

Heavy metal or classic? Heavy Metal. I hear in the car.

Yoga or gym? Gymnastics is not my world. Yoga.

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