Host a clothing swap with your friends can help divert clothing from landfills, and it is a fun way to actively practice sustainable living while being stylish!
For Earth Day 2016, with Fashion Revolution in mind, I hosted a Frock Swap/Clothing Swap with some of my friends! What is a Clothing Swap, you ask? Simple! A frock or clothing swap is a method of trading clothes with a group of people for free or for a low fee (usually larger swaps charge fees to cover the location rental fee and to provide refreshments). It is a way to get rid of clothes you no longer use, and gain new clothes that are pre-loved, but just as awesome.
Trading or swapping clothes allows you to bypass the consumeristic need to go to the store and buy things just because you feel like you have nothing to wear. It also allows you to refresh your closet on a budget, and through a new lens. You’ll get to shop other people’s styles, thus you might leave with things you thought you’d never wear simply because you actually took the time to try them on while at the swap. Swaps are so much fun, and it falls right in line with our Sustainable Tips Series as the third tier in how to be a sustainable consumer. Read more Sustainable Living Tips like this third phase in the series here: Phase 1 and Phase 2.
Quick Facts – Clothing Consumption & Waste
- “As a society, we consume 400% more clothing today than we did just 20 years ago.” – Forbes
- If Everyone Bought One Used Item Instead of New This Year, We Would Save: 5.78 lbs of CO2 emissions, 11 billion kWH of energy, 25B gallons of water, and 449M lbs of waste. – McKinsey & Company via thredUP 2019 Resale Report
- “The average lifetime of a piece of clothing is approximately 3 years.” – The Balance. When we increase that lifetime by sharing clothes, we can reduce the vast amount of waste associated with the fashion industry.
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How To Host A Clothing Swap
1) Choose an event location and set an attendee limit.
If hosting at your home, don’t go too big unless you have the space for it. I opted for a maximum of 12 people at the swap hosted at my home.
If hosting at a public location, ensure that this type of event is allowed and determine if you need a permit for selling (even though you are swapping),
2) Gather your necessary equipment
- Clothes racks and/or tables to display swap clothes
- props for fun moments photos
- a photo booth
- a camera to document your
3) Invite friends that love fashion or want to be more fashionable
- Be inclusive – invite friends of all heights, sizes, styles and fashion sense. You never know
4) Each attendee should bring like-new clothes to swap.
- Encourage friends and attendees to bring the clothes that they haven’t worn in several years or the ones that they really dislike for themselves, or even clothes that they wouldn’t mind parting with if someone else would love it.
- If only a few people are attending, it helps to set a minimum and amount of clothes to bring with them in order to participate in the swap and make it successful by increasing the chances of everyone finding something new to them that they can take home and wear
5) Set aside a time to hang and organize the clothes that everyone brings at the beginning of the event.
- If it is a small event, this can be done at the beginning by one person, or everyone can hang their own clothes as they arrive.
- If at a larger event, this can be done during refreshments and a live chat or fashion Q&A, with a few select helpers/volunteers.
6) Start the swap!
- For a small event, each lady will take turns in a round trying on clothes and choosing a piece.
- For added fun, make it a fashion show! When each person tries something on, dance to some Beyonce or Rihanna.
- For a larger event, set a limit on how many articles people can leave with, or specify a bag size to fill up.
7) Decide how to sustainably share the remaining clothes
If there are clothes left behind that attendees don’t want to take home, here are a few options for what to do with the remaining clothes:
- Donate them to a program that helps people seek employment
- Donate the clothes to a shelter
- Host a community yard sale and donate the proceeds to a local, an environmentally focused charity, or your favorite charitable organization
- Donate the remaining clothes to a thrift store
In the end, everyone leaves with things that are new to them without having to shop at big retail stores, and you usually meet some pretty awesome people that you can share thrift store and style stories with! This is a sustainable way to both get rid of old clothes that you don’t wear much anymore and to increase your wardrobe with clothes that are old to your friends, but new to you. Let me know if you host a swap, I’d love to chat about it and see the results. Everyone at our swap left super happy with clothes and accessories that were new to us. I’d love to see you all be sustainable and do the same!
All photos and event co-hosting by: Gernelle Nelson
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