On Wednesday evening I went to a clothing swap in the East Village that doubled as a fundraiser and vegan bake sale. I wandered in about 5:30 p.m. eager to get rid of the large bag of clothes that had been cluttering my closet for months.
I handed over 23 items -- including scarves, shoes, and jewelry -- and was given a card that allowed me to take up to 23 new things home. No need to do fractions in my head to save a buck. This guilt-free shopping kept it simple: the more you donate, the more you get.
To start swapping, I paid the $10 admission price ($7 for students), which was donated directly to the Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART) foundation, a nonprofit that teaches kids in schools across New York City and Chicago about human rights, animal protection, and environmental ethics. Thanks to Ecorazzi’s sponsorship, all proceeds from the swap would go straight to HEART.
The swapping took place in a room at the Trinity Lutheran Parish. There were three large standing racks and six long tables covered with folded clothes -- some brand new, others well loved, but all very clean. Everything was sorted by size and sex. There was even a table for vegan shoes.
As I started to peruse the clothing, I saw a couple of volunteers already folding and laying out the things I’d brought. There was a constant flow of people arriving as I browsed, replenishing the stock of goods with their own donations. Just when I thought I'd seen everything on offer, someone new would walk in with a fresh stash, persuading me to stay a little longer.
After an hour of looking through the incredible assortment of clothing -- everything from full-length dresses and suits to felt hats and sportswear -- I settled on a pair of silver earrings, a couple of shirts, a pair of barely worn flats, and a belt. I overheard one woman on the phone saying, “I just traded 26 things that didn't fit for 26 things that look great. Look who’s got a whole new wardrobe!” Thankfully I wouldn’t have quite as much to take home and cram into my closet.
My successful shopping spree got me wondering why local swapping events like this one aren’t more common. Swapping is all the rage online these days with popular sites like swap.com, freecycle.org, paperbackswap.com, and even zipcar.com, but all of those web resources lack the fun atmosphere of my local clothing swap.
I got to meet other locals, enjoy a delicious cupcake from Vegan Good Things, and see people happily pick up things I’d donated, not to mention get some great new clothes and accessories for free. Talk about an easy (and fun!) way to recycle.
Next time you're trying to find space in your closet, have got a pile of things that don’t fit anymore, or just want a new look, skip the department stores and start your own swapping party with friends instead. It's a win-win, every time.
If you're a New Yorker, you can also check out the NYC Clothing Swap next year by contacting Alyson Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just put "Clothing Swap" in the subject line and she'll send you all the info for the annual event.