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Good Consumer Habits: Swap Till You Drop!

Have you ever stopped to wonder how clothing is made and why it remains cheap at large retail stores? “Fast fashion” is a new concept that describes how large corporations produce new styles more frequently and in mass amounts. Producing the clothing in mass amounts makes it more affordable for the average consumer; which in turn increases consumer demand.

Due to the business of "fast fashion," people buy more of these cheap goods and then a few months later, stop wearing the "so-last-season clothes" and buy the newest trend in fashion. This puts more pressure on the labor forces producing the goods as well as the environment. Many labor workers have been forced to work overtime hours in order to meet the demands of fast fashion, leading to a decrease in quality of goods as well as a decrease in healthy working environments. In addition, the amount of resources needed to produce these goods has gone up as more items of clothing are being producing. One cotton t-shirt alone take 2,700 liters of water to manufacture, transport, and care for. The rate at which these large corporations are turning out goods is not sustainable in the long run. These practices only further encourage consumptive behavior and reinforce unethical practices.

With an economy that creates disposable mindset, change is needed. One way the SCU community has taken part in combating this mindset is through the Swap for Good, Santa Clara’s very own “pop-up” thrift shop. The American Research Group approximates that almost an equal amount of the American population shops at thrift stores as they do apparel stores (19%). This indicates that the population choosing to buy at thrift stores, whether due to a sustainable mindset or due to the good prices, is fairly high and that the American population is willing to buy resale items.

SCU is able to take part in this behavior through the Swap for Good, which provides a sustainable option for the SCU community! Sharing empowers our community to say “NO!” to big industry and its destructive patterns. This is an option to forego the expense of spending money on new items, while also repurposing things we might not wear anymore. Not only does it provide the service of sharing apparel, but it also allows a community to convene together and show support between the different socio-economical classes. Santa Clara University has provided such an opportunity for communal support since 2011, and The Swap for Good has partnered with Home Safe, Santa Clara Community Action Program, and Hope Services since 2011, and gives on-campus residents the opportunity to clear out their closets early in preparation for an easier Move-Out. Home Safe provides families who have been affected by domestic violence with a place to live and Hope Services provides aid to those with developmental disabilities in the Bay Area.

From weeks 5 to 6, the Center for Sustainability, in partnership with Housing & Residence Life, is offering the SCU community the chance to donate old clothes and shop at this week 7 pop-up clothing exchange during May 8-10th in Benson Parlors B & C and find their new favorite pair of jeans, athletic wear, shirts, and more! The swap is open to everyone in the SCU community, and once the store closes, all of the remaining clothing will be donated to a local organization--whether a SCCAP program or Hope Services, providing free clothes for the members of our local community who are in need.

environmentaljustice, may16