Last week, SAGE, the student association for geography and environment, and Zero Waste UTM, a club that brings awareness of waste management issues within the environment, collaborated to host a clothing swap event in the Davis building (DV).
From February 4 to February 6, students had the opportunity to participate in the event by bringing their own clothes and swapping it with clothing brought by other students for as little as $0.50.
Prior to the event, people interested in being a part of the clothing swap were asked to drop off their clothes at SAGE’s office (DV 3213) in order to get a ticket with the number of items they donated. The ticket allowed students to easily swap the exact number of clothes they donated beforehand so they didn’t have to bring in their clothes to the actual event.
Nevertheless, students not aware of the event beforehand still got the chance to bring their clothing on the day of the event and swap them with other clothing.
Mahsa Seema Karim (Shazeen), vice-president external of Zero Waste UTM and a third-year student studying environmental management, explained the importance of SAGE and Zero Waste UTM teaming up for this event.
“We collaborated based on the fact that we wanted to promote sustainability on campus,” said Karim.
Zero Waste UTM also had re-usable products such as bamboo utensils and beeswax wraps for students to purchase.
Karim explained that when students continue to buy the same daily-use products instead of purchasing re-usable products, they contribute to the growing waste on the planet.
“You can purchase [things] for yourself that are re-usable […] of course after what you used is already degraded,” said Karim.
Nele Stockmayer, a third-year exchange student from Germany studying biology at UTM, said that events like the clothing swap help spread the importance of living more sustainably to other students.
“One important thing is sometimes [students] don’t have to buy anything but it gives a consciousness about how much we are using and that there are [reusable] things that we can use instead,” said Stockmayer.
This is not the first time a clothing swap has taken place on campus.
“We saw Zero Waste actually running this initiative,” said Carina Suleiman, the academic coordinator for SAGE and a third-year student majoring in environmental management and political science.
“They run this initiative for one day during the year so we thought it would be a great expansion on the idea and have it over several days,” continued Suleiman.
According to Suleiman, the main idea of the clothing swap is to stop fast fashion.
“I think the biggest lesson that we want to communicate is [we need to stop] fast fashion,” said Suleiman. “There is nothing wrong with exchanging clothes and giving them a second home.”
“There is also this aspect of donating to community organizations, environmental organizations, as well as women shelters. We feel that it’s a great way to give back to our community in a way that students can participate in,” said Suleiman.
Jihan Khatib, the co-president of SAGE and a fourth-year student majoring in environment and geography, hoped that the event would ultimately inspire students to “switch from fast fashion and go for more sustainable initiatives.”
“We want to reduce our impact [on the environment]. We want to shed light on fast fashion, the problems with fast fashion, and [encourage] more alternative, sustainable ways of getting clothing,” said Khatib.
Tingting Zhu, a geography lecturer at UTM and the faculty liaison of SAGE, told The Medium that it is normal for humans to fill their closets with clothing they no longer wear.
“As human beings, we have a sense of fashion and have preferences over clothes which lead to a common scene that some of our gently worn clothes are buried in our closets,” said Zhu. “In clothes production, a huge amount of raw materials and energy are consumed, which eventually results in an enormous waste. The clothing swap promotes sustainable fashion among students without sacrificing our social needs.”
“We hope to upscale this local recycling initiative over years, increase our awareness of sustainable living, and eventually alter our buying habits regionally and globally,” continued Zhu.
All proceeds from the clothing swap will go to Ecosource, a non-profit environmental organization that inspires the community to be more sustainable in Mississauga. The remaining clothes from the event will be donated to the Interim Place, a women’s shelter in Mississauga.
SAGE will continue their environmental sustainability initiatives with an open sustainability panel on February 13 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the UTM room (DV 3141).