Growing up, it was ingrained in me to always hunt for a sale. Whether it was while grocery shopping, car shopping, or clothes shopping, value and price were two high running variables involved in my purchase.
When I was in middle school, my mom picked my brother and I up from school randomly and took us to the local mall. She handed us each a $100 bill and told us that we could spend it on whatever we wanted. She was a working single mom at the time, so this was a big deal for all of us. I, of course, headed to the back of every store to the clearance sections. I wanted to get the most out of my newly found fortune.
This brings us to what I wanted to talk about today. In high school I had an idea to start a group on Facebook for a clothing swap. This was a place where people in my school could go to post photos in their album of clothing, accessories, and other items that they no longer wanted or needed in hopes of swapping them for other people’s items that were available. It was a way for us to get new-to-us clothing without creating more waste, begging our parents, waiting for holidays, or spending our own hard-earned cash. It went well for the entire school year. I never had to mediate any arguments between people about their arrangements and, because we weren’t selling anything, none of the administration at school seemed to care. When summer approached, the swapping stopped since we didn’t see each other outside of school, but overall it was a good experience.
This idea came from a clothing swap that I had participated in at a local church that I was previously associated with. They had a table for each person participating and for every item of clothing that they brought, they were able to take home a clothing item. I thought the idea was awesome because you could refresh your wardrobe without tapping into your bank account. I don’t particularly remember, but it would be a good idea to give everyone a raffle ticket for each item they donated and they could return the ticket for each item they select to take home. Any clothing items that are left, could be donated to a local Salvation Army or thrift store.
Events like this could greatly decrease the amount of clothing that is discarded annually. When I was younger and still living with my parents, I thought of my income as spending money. I was in high school and didn’t think much about the future. I would take my friends out for dinner and spend hundreds of dollars on clothes that would maybe be worn once. I didn’t say I was smart. I wasn’t thinking long term. Looking back at it, I could have saved thousands of dollars toward my college education before even graduating high school. You live and you learn.
Now think about if clothing swaps were a regular thing. Who knows, maybe they are a regular thing by you. In which case, that’s awesome! If not, maybe it could become a semi-regular thing in your area. You can always talk to your local schools, churches, VFW… about hosting an event. This could bring people to their locations to learn more about their causes, could offer traffic for them to have a spaghetti dinner/bake sale, or they could even accept a nominal donation for entry to the event (even $5 per person would save the person a ton of money while raising money for the location’s cause).
Not only would clothing swaps save you money, but it would save you space. When you buy new clothing, you still have your old clothing in your closet. If you are like me, it tends to build up over time and before you know it, your closet it packed full of clothes (and we all know you only wear a small portion of them anyway). This is your chance to purge those gently used garments that you no longer fit in or don’t match your style. The worst thing that could happen is you donate your clothing to the swap and can’t find anything that you like there. Oh well! Those were clothes you weren’t going to wear anyway.
Stop shopping and start swapping! It’s better for our planet and for your wallet.