Most students likely already know to recycle plastic bottles and paper, but clothing can now be added to that list through events like a clothing swap.
In 2017, landfills received 11.2 million tons of textile municipal solid waste, while only 2.6 million tons were recycled. Municipal solid waste made up 8% of all landfill waste, according to the Enviromental Protection Agency.
If clothing isn’t donated for secondhand use, it could pile up in landfills. Clothing swaps are a way to keep garments from being wasted and are one way individuals can minimize the negative environmental impact of fashion.
The Ohio University Climate and Sustainability Ambassadors hosted a clothing swap in Jefferson Hall on Sunday. The clothing swap gave students an opportunity to get rid of old clothes and get some environmentally-friendly new threads.
Both affordable and fun, clothing swaps make for a great way for students to get new clothes.
“[The ambassador program] is super passionate about the environment and seeing change,” Nicole Campbell, a climate and sustainability ambassador, said.
The clothing swap in Jeff Hall was Campbell’s first experience with a clothing swap. For her, it was a great way to be a conscious consumer. To Campbell, one of the best things about swaps is extending an item’s lifespan.
“It helps the environment, plus it’s cheap,” Campbell, a senior studying specialized studies, said.
Campbell thrifts most of her clothing, she added. Being able to get used clothing for free is a plus to her.
“People should check out the movie The True Cost on Netflix,” Campbell added. “It really looks at the consumerism in fashion and clothing waste. With trends changing constantly, people can’t keep up with it.”
Clothing swaps contain more than just shirts and pants. Gently-used items such as gloves, hats, scarves and shoes are traded at clothing swaps too.
Fashion and clothing are subject to time and trends. Clothing swaps also provide opportunities for people to get rid of garments they no longer want or have a use for. Whether it be for seasonal purposes, with layered looks to keep warm, or trendy patterns — an individual's wardrobe is always changing.
Some students hold their own clothing exchanges. Lauren Shaffer, a senior studying retail merchandising and fashion product development, hosted a private clothing swap at her apartment on Sunday, as well.
“I don’t have to spend any money and it’s in my own house,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer and her roommates invited their friends, who invited their friends. About a dozen people showed up to exchange items.
“I like diving in because you know the clothes are going to someone who will enjoy them,” Shaffer added.
Shaffer enjoys the convenience of not having to leave her own home to get new clothes. She also appreciates that exchanging clothing provides knowledge as to where the garments end up.
Natalie Matesic, a fifth-year studying English, attended the swap at Shaffer’s apartment.
Matesic enjoys clothing swaps and tries to attend them, she said. A perk for her is knowing the personal history and background of the items she receives at exchanges.
“I like that you know who owned the clothing,” Matesic explained.
Matesic also enjoys that clothing exchanges repurpose and prolong the life of various items.
“You’re giving it a second life,” she said.
Matesic also likes the certainty that comes with getting clothing from a friend's swap.
“I like knowing that you’re going to wear it,” Matesic said.
For Matesic, another great thing about clothing swaps is the environment it creates. When students run their own, they get to create their own ambiance.
“I also like the set-up,” Matesic explained. “It’s one person at a time, and then you get to look at everything with friends.”
Instead of letting clothes pile up in a landfill, one could pile it up in their closet for a clothing swap. The holidays are the perfect time to exchange gifts among friends and family but maybe exchange clothing, too.
“It’s a great time,” Matesic added.