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Everywhere in North America, citizens are faced with a wardrobe crisis. We all somehow have dozens, perhaps hundreds, of pieces of clothing, but nothing to wear.
The struggle is real! Few things may annoy you so consistently as the disappointment of coming out empty handed after digging through a pile of clothing on your closet floor. You are not alone – most are going through this same experience everywhere in the country.
Why is this so? Well, let’s start by saying it’s not entirely your own fault. Fashion has become fast and cheap, and everyone is buying, discarding, and renewing their wardrobes at record speeds. The downside to this is that we get tired of our clothes quickly and end up with a whole lot of waste.
Indeed, that clothing waste is a huge issue in the United States. Every year, almost 13 million tons of textile waste is created, and only 15% is reused or recycled. To put the environmental costs of this into perspective, consider that a single t-shirt requires 2700 gallons of water to create. That’s enough to provide for a person’s drinking water for 900 days. In a time of increasing water scarcity, continuing with our current levels of clothing consumption is crazy.

What Are The Alternatives?

You can of course choose to buy less, buy quality pieces that will last, and buy secondhand. But there is an alternative that allows you to update and downsize your closet all at once, without having to spend a dime! I’m talking about clothing swaps.

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What Is A Clothing Swap?

It’s simple. You have clothes you don’t want. Someone else has clothes they don’t want. You get together and swap what you’ve got and everyone leaves with a few new-to-them pieces that they can use to rejuvenate their wardrobes. It addresses several issues simultaneously:
  1. The problem of needing to get rid of extra clothing.
  2. The feeling of wanting to get that ‘new stuff fix.’
  3. The huge waste associated with throwing out and buying new clothing.
Clothing swaps are typically not-for-profit, mutually beneficial, and a pristine example of community collaboration. A refreshing experience compared to the usually linear and independent model of consumption modern commerce is built upon.

What Do You Need To Run A Clothing Swap?

Do you have friends and family?
Do you have clothes you want to get rid of?
Congrats, you’ve got yourself the ingredients for a clothing swap.
In terms of the rules, there can be as few or as many as you’d like. The most common rule is that participants exchange their contributions for tickets, which can then be exchanged for other items in the swap (1 ticket = 1 item). In other words, you take out only what you’ve brought in.
Another common approach is that all participants, regardless of the number of clothes they bring, are given an equally sized bag. Participants can take away as many clothes as can fit into the bag.
Have clothing racks, hangers, and places to organize the items is a great way to keep your swap from becoming a frenzy.Provide snacks and prizes for optimal results.

Why Should You Run A Clothing Swap?

Clothing Swaps are community-based and not-for-profit events that provide an easy way for people to fulfill their desire to change and update their wardrobe without purchasing anything new. It is the anti-thesis to the consumerist and independent model of living with which we are otherwise overwhelmed.
It’s a great way to bring a community of people together, educate them on alternative ways of fulfilling their needs, and have fun. Organizing and running a clothing swap immediately places you as community leader and helper.
The benefits to the environment cannot be overstated. Your clothing swap will not only help reduce the amount of garbage entering the waste stream, you help prevent someone from getting all of this new stuff.
Start small with direct friends and family at your home – it will be a new and refreshing get together. You might decide to expand the operation in a church basement, or library. Then, who knows how much you’ll expand your clothing swap empire.

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