HOW TO THROW A SWAP PARTY
I didn’t buy anything this "Black Friday", instead I hosted a "Swap Party" for my friends and I. So, we still got lots of «new» clothes, only these were completely free and very sustainable.
It was so cozy and fun, and I sat literally up to my waist in clothes at one point. Which was great for the swappers, but also evindece of how much of a waste problem western society really does have.
The good part is that instead of throwing away all of these faboulus clothes, we swapped them with eachother for other used clothes. The leftovers that won’t be saved for the next "Swap Party" will be donated to someone in need locally.
You could say we did a Sustainable Saturday, instead of a Black Friday.
What is a Swap Party, and why do we need them?
The answer is simple. It's a party where you bring the clothes you don't use anymore, and swap them for clothes other party goers don't use anymore.
We need swap parties because it's better for the environment if we buy less and rather use what we already have.
If you want something new (well, new for you), shopping secondhand, renting, borrowing, or swapping clothes is the most sustainable option. Swapping clothes keeps your wardrobe looking fresh and feels like getting new clothes, but has no extra impact on the environment.
Clothes swapping and "Swap Parties", come from the slow fashion movement and is meant to turn people away from fast fashion and rather shop sustainably and ethically.
Fashion becomes "fast fashion" when clothing, shoes, accessories and so on is made under terrible working conditions, the garment workers are usually underpaid for their labor, it has a production process that pollute a lot, then sells at a low retail price so people can easily discard it after a short period of time only to make room for more new stuff.
Luckily, fast fashion is becoming more and more untrendy, and slow fashion is gaining in popularity.
How to throw a "Swap Party"!
When I did research for my first Swap Party, I found several guides on how to do it. However, those were usually intended for very large scale public ones, and I wanted to do one for my friends in my apartment. So what I came up with, is really just a more laid back version.
First, I invite lots of my friends. Then I buy snacks and something to drink, so the guests stay hydrated and don’t go hungry. Trying on clothes takes energy!
In my invite for the event, I tell people to bring good clothes that they don’t want anymore. Most people usually bring more than they take (at least in my group), so if someone doesn’t have anything to bring it doesn’t matter and they can come anyway. You can also tell people to bring at least one item, to swap for another. The main goal is for all the clothes to find a new home and get a second life.
Then I use hangers and display the coolest pieces, so everyone can see the selection a little better.
After a few hours of people trying on clothes and looking on their own, I go through the clothes and show them one by one for everyone to see.
The clothes that don’t make that final round either, I divide into piles of "keeping for next swap party", donate to charity, and then a special bag for the nice beggar outside my apartment. I make sure to get him the warm and practical stuff that looks gender neutral.
There has luckily always been enough stuff for every size at my "Swap Parties", so that has never been a problem. However, that’s something to be aware of if you don’t have a wide enough or balanced size range in your friends group. Make sure you invite people of all sizes, or just the same sizes, so that everyone can find something cute to take home and won’t feel excluded.
I usually do about two or three "Swap Parties" a year, so everyone can to join at a time that works. There's always a bunch who really wants to come, but can't make it the day you have picked.
Also! This time, we started talking about getting robes that says "SwapParty" on them, so we don’t have to put our clothes back on in between trying on stuff. So, if anyone know where to get ethical robes, let me know!
It’s really important to try and keep the economy as circular as possible, and not just push our overflow of clothes problem over to developing countries. This is because it’s destructive to their environment and economy.
The world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. This is 400% more than the amount we consumed just 20 years ago. 2/3 of the clothes produced each year, end up in landfills within the end of that same year. The average American now generates 82 pounds of textile waste each year. That adds up to more than 11 million tons of textile waste from the U.S. alone.
About 4.7 billion pounds of clothing are donated by Americans each year. Only 10% of the clothes we donate to charity are considered good enough to being resold in the retail store. The rest of that ends up in landfills, some of it is recycled into rags and insulation, and some of it ends up in the markets of Sub-Saharan Africa where it collapses their own clothing industry.
Used clothes from the west shipped to developing countries is a billion dollar industry for the west, and often hurt the local clothing business and keep people in poverty.
Donating to people in need is great, but for things to actually improve western countries need to stop exploiting developing countries for our own gain (Then become frustrated when people from these countries need to come to the west for work and safety do to environmental changes or poverty).
The fast fashion problem affects us all. No matter what side we’re on politically.
Last but not least, a little final insight into how "Swap Parties" and buying secondhand can make a difference.
Research has shown that 1 in 10 people would discard a piece of clothing after it has been pictured on social media three times. Another study of 2000 women, shows that fashion buys were worn only about 7 times.
On average, wearing our clothes for an extra nine months will reduce clothing’s carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30%. By the calculations of a 20-30% reduction in carbon, water and waste footprint by wearing something for an extra nine months, means that wearing a piece of clothing for about 8 years and not replacing it with something new, has reduced that same piece of clothing’s footprint by about 150%.
Since so many don't wear all their clothes til it's worn out, imagine what making sure someone else wears it after you (and so on, until the piece of clothing gets to the point where it's actually worn out) could do?
What you do matter, even if it’s just something as "small" as not buying new.
Here's a little sneak peek into what some of the swappers tried on, and what some took home this past weekend.
The last photo of a huge pile of clothes and some shoes, is my pile of "Swap Party treasures"! Can't wait to create so many fun outfits using my "new" clothes.
"Swap Parties" are so much fun, they’re great for the environment, and my friends and I love it! Everyone should try it. They're especially genius for childrens clothes, so give it a go!
Sources: The documentary "The true cost" movie, "Fair Trade: The first step", and the series "Sweatshop", https://www.one.org/us/2014/03/14/what-really-happens-to-your-donated-clothing/, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/unions-reveal-garment-minimum-wage-goal-2017, http://cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/obama-ups-climate-change-consensus-paris-995-scientists. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3117645/Women-ditch-clothes-ve-worn-just-seven-times-Items-left-shelf-buyer-feels-ve-weight-ve-bought-whim.html
ETHICAL AND PERSONALIZED STYLE, FOR A "GOOD FOR YOU" WARDROBE.
Idealist style is a website and "slow blog" dedicated to ethical fashion and personalized style, including tips on how to find your very own "slow fashion" style by using color analysis, the body types system, and other slow fashion tips.»