Refresh your wardrobe for free. Host a clothing swap

An assortment of garments at a clothing swap.

Want to put what you’re not wearing into the hands of someone who will, find new treasures without spending money, make new friends and keep textile waste out of landfills? Host a clothing swap! It’s a fun, simple, fashionable way to reduce, reuse and recycle!

Clothing swap do's

  • Prioritize accessibility. It may be impossible to make your event accessible to everyone, but consider individual needs such as scent sensitives, animal allergies, wheelchair access, service animals, etc.
  • Invite friends, family, neighbours, and/or co-workers. Suggest a limit for each person to bring, maybe five to 10 used clothing items, accessories and/or shoes.
  • Stick with a season. Fall or spring is when most people clean out closets.
  • Make it a “regular.” Include a swap as part of your routine night out with your crew, book club, play date, etc.
  • Spell out what people can bring. Request clean, gently used items only. Ask participants to reduce the scents of items they bring to increase accessibility for those with sensitivities.
  • Be inclusive. Emphasize that all sizes are welcome.
  • Set up a changing area. Dedicate an alcove, screen or washroom for folks to try stuff on. Or, if it works for your group, encourage a consensual, friendly atmosphere of trying things on in front of each other. Have at least one full-body mirror handy.
  • Donate leftovers to a local charity. If possible, prioritize marginalized and/or needy people. Contact organizations in advance to find out if they can accept items on the day you’ve scheduled your swap.
  • Avoid body shaming. Clothes may be a problem, bodies are not. Use positive feedback phrases such as “that dress can’t contain your awesomeness,” or “that colour isn’t the best for you.”
  • Spread the word. Create a social media invite. Include the date, time, location and guidelines.
  • Sort by size. That way people won’t have to search through things that may not fit them.
  • Think ahead. Depending on the size of your swap, you may want to arrange for volunteers to sort clothes, greet folks and drive donations to the drop-off location.

Clothing swap don'ts

  • No underwear or bathing suits.
  • No damaged or dirty items.
  • No rummaging through piles or racks with your elbows out!
  • Don’t sort by gender. Allow folks of all identities to define what they’re interested in.

Not sure if an item in your wardrobe qualifies to be swapped? Ask yourself, “Would I give this to my best friend?”. If not, leave it out.