Clothing swap highlights sustainable fashion initiative

Isabelle Pala

If you didn’t see the signs hanging around the school, then you likely heard about the clothing swap from a friend who scored three new shirts and a cute dress for free. Not only was every item in the swap as cheap as it gets, but it also presented an opportunity to get rid of a few pieces of clothing you probably haven’t worn since eighth grade. However, this fun little event was more than it seemed: it created a sustainable way to shop without supporting the fast fashion industry. That’s the Environmental Conservation Club’s main purpose for starting this tradition of clothing swaps. 

Club co-founder Ella Schneider explained that “fast fashion industries that we see all the time like Forever 21, H&M, Urban Outfitters, and Brandy Melville aren’t energy-efficient or good for our environment.” In fact, the apparel and footwear industry makes up eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which is comparable to the carbon footprint of agriculture, making up nine percent. It doesn’t stop there. Labor conditions in crumbling factories are appalling and workers get paid less than a dollar an hour in developing countries around the world. 

“Spreading awareness is really important because people don’t always know that their actions have consequences, so learning about what’s harmful and what’s not right is going to help them [ take] the easy steps in doing a different thing,” added Schneider. The club is also doing work to reduce plastic usage and waste at Wilson, such as talking to the administration about distributing all renewable products. 

But clothing swaps aren’t the only way to support sustainable shopping. Thrifting is another great option for cheap clothes that aren’t degrading to the environment. DC has dozens of thrift stores within a 20-minute drive where you can get anything from jeans to sunglasses for almost nothing. 

On December 17, the tables in the library quickly filled up as people flooded through the door, eager to find their new favorite fit. Items came and went within minutes and many left with a smile on their face. Because that day was such a success, the club decided to extend the swap until the next day, encouraging students to bring more and tell their friends about it. By the end, most items were gone and the remaining clothes were donated to Goodwill.  

Due to the first swap’s popularity, the club plans on holding them monthly in order to attract new club members, educate others on the issues of supporting large-scale companies, and provide students with an affordable way to add to their wardrobe. Don’t miss the next one happening later this month!