Sustainability Office Hosts Swap Shop

The Raider’s Den in the Trudy Fitness Center bustled with students this past Thursday, April 21. Thrifters sifted with determination through piles of clothing of all styles on display for the Sustainability Clothing Swap, part of the 13 Days of Green annual celebration, which is a collection of educational and participatory events organized by the Office of Sustainability to advance sustainability awareness at Colgate. The Clothing Swap in particular encourages students to adopt a sustainable shopping lifestyle by sharing their own clothing items with the student body. Students were instructed to bring their unwanted items to boxes located around campus over the course of 13 days for the swap event. 

Claire Rose, a junior and intern for the sustainability office, discussed the extensive planning of this event.

“There was a box in pretty much every residence hall, in the [O’Connor Campus Center] (Coop), and every Greek Life organization house and we collected a bunch of clothes, and then put them out. And they’re for free,” Rose shared. “We want to promote sustainable fashion — reusing things instead of throwing them away. And at the end of this, we will be donating all of the leftover clothes. If there’s any professional clothes, we’ll give them to the Career Services Center for people to use if they need clothing for interviews or jobs. And then also to the Hamilton Food Cupboard.”

The event was very successful, as the organizers frequently remarked on the excitement of the students who came to the event and how they filled large bags with several new finds. Sophomore Anna Donovan, a sustainability intern, reflected on the importance of bringing awareness to how sustainability and fashion intersect.

“I would probably say this [event] probably raises more awareness about sustainability. … It just proves you could still be fashionable and be in trend and not have to fall into fast fashion ways. So I think that was definitely the takeaway,” Donovan said.

Devon Lee, a senior concentrating in computer science and geography, attended the swap shop having heard about it from a friend. Given how fast items were taken, she fortunately made it towards the beginning of the event and filled a bag of clothing for herself. Lee frequently supports events that encourage these sustainable practices and spoke about why she tends to avoid shopping fast fashion.

“Fast fashion not only contributes to tons of waste and overconsumption, but also to the normalization of bad working conditions and extremely low wages,” she stated. “Although fast fashion is such a big industry, I try to shop sustainably and encourage people I know as well because change has to start somewhere. Many people can’t afford to shop sustainably which is why I think the [Clothing Swap] is a good event since it makes sustainable shopping really accessible.” 

Sustainability intern and sophomore Mackenzie Lahren also helped organize the event and remarked on the contributions of the students to its overall success.

“I was really pleased with how the event turned out,” Lahren said. “We really have our fellow students to thank for so much of the success. All the people who donated great pieces of clothing will get to see them have a second life here on campus. I think students like being able to pick out pieces that were worn by other students because it’s more likely that they’ll have similar tastes and styles. So it’s easier than general thrifting in that way.”

Rose shared this sentiment with her co-organizer and emphasized the importance of longevity in considering sustainability.

“You just see how every single student has something to give. … It just reminds you that even though you’re done with something, its life doesn’t have to be over.”