Western Wellness and Education Centre

Swapping Clothes for Sustainability

Greg Bowman

We’ve all been there. You have a closet full of clothes, but you don’t know what to wear. You want to buy new clothes, but that’s expensive. Plus, you’re not a fan of child labour or the environmental impact that clothes manufacturing has. 

That’s where the Wellness and Education Centre at Western comes in. For the month of July, the Wellness and Education Centre will be focusing on environmental wellness, and will be running a clothing swap this week. 

“We wanted to host an event that taught people more about environmental wellness,” said Chelsea Morningstone, Communications Director with the Wellness and Education Centre. “Buying second-hand fashion or just swapping things at a clothing swap is a really great way to reduce your environmental footprint.”

The Centre will be taking donations of gently-used clothes for the entire week, until Friday, July 19th at 3pm. If you bring your clothes in, you can take your pick about what clothes you get in return. It’s an even swap, meaning if you bring in two articles of clothing, you can take two home.  It’s an excellent opportunity to revamp the wardrobe in an environmentally friendly way. 

The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world (behind the oil industry). For every one ton of textiles produced, over 200 tons of fresh water is used. Moreover, textiles cause pollution of waterways, dumping their wastewater directly into rivers, while fertilizers used for growing cotton also end up in bodies of water. 

“When you choose second-hand fashion, you’re preventing all of that [pollution] from occurring,” explained Morningstone.” There’s also the issues with inhumane sweatshops in the developing world which are responsible for a strong majority of clothing manufacturing. 

The fashion industry is guilty on many fronts for environmental harm, not only in its production of clothes but also its marketing. Fashion trends will change on varying intervals, from six-month cycles to five-year intervals. Regardless, it’s a ploy to make people buy more clothing, change their wardrobe which then, in turn, feeds into the fashion industry even further.

The clothing swap has encapsulated the reality of changing fashion, and giving people an alternative way to experience it: “We still want people to have clothes that are on trend, things that represent their personal style. So, by doing this, you’re often going to get things from American Eagle, Forever 21 - those kinds of stores that may not have the best production of clothes but you can still wear those styles,” commented Morningstone on the preparation for the swap.

There is already no shortage of places where you can donate your clothes when you no longer want them, and even trade them. Thrift stores like Goodwill, Value Village, and Talize are all predicated on repurposing people’s old clothing and belongings. The clothing swap though, guarantees something the stores can not: “with this you know that other people are going to be taking them. We are going to donate anything that’s left over to Anova. Sometimes when things are donated to thrift stores, they don’t often get re-purchased, they can end up in landfills,” Morningstone said, while still urging people to donate their clothes by any means. “You’re trading within your own community. It’s within the Western community and you know your pieces are going to a new home with someone who’s going to use them. 

The clothing swap is one of a handful of environmental initiatives the Wellness and Education Centre has going on in July. They have many environmental resources available at their office, as well as a “Sustainabili-tree” where they urge passersby to share their own methods of environmental sustainability. 

Swap, Don’t Shop! Donations will be accepted for the entire week at Room 76 of the UCC from 1-4pm, with the grand swap happening on Friday, July 19th from 1-3pm.