When Alyssa Mosher decided to host a clothing swap, she didn’t expect to be looking down the barrel of a mountain of used clothing. Or that it would change her perspective on fashion so significantly.
“The main thing that has changed -- and that I want to change for everyone -- is to purchase more mindfully. Before buying a new -- or even used -- piece of clothing, I really make sure I love or need it. Otherwise, I just don't buy it!” she says.
It probably also helped that for the last several years, she’s had a behind-closed-doors peek into closets and storage bins across Yellowknife. With her business, A-List Organizing, she’s seen first hand what lurks in many people’s clutter.
“Working with clients who want to declutter their closets; learning about fast fashion and many people's desire to simply "shop" even if they don't need an item; wanting to give back -- all of that contributed to wanting to do a clothing swap,” she says. “I just felt like we could recycle and reuse each other's things for free before going out and buying new.”
She’s hosted clothing swaps before, but thanks to funding from the Waste Recovery and Recycling Initiative, she was able to do even more in her first clothing swap since the pandemic. She began gathering donations, and by August 13, when the Clothing Swap officially began, 3.6 cubic feet, or 3,600 litres, had been donated from over 20 different closets. That’s enough to fill approximately 58 large Rubbermaid storage tubs.
“I had forgotten just how much clothing tends to get donated. 3.6 cubic metres doesn't sound like that much, but it really is! And to think it all only came from 20 or so donators? That's significant!” says Mosher.
There was so much stuff up for grabs that the over 70 Clothing Swap attendees left behind a fair amount of clothing at the end of the swap. Trying to find homes for the leftovers reminded Mosher of just how much fabric waste is created, and what that means for smaller jurisdictions like Yellowknife. Both St. Patrick’s Vinnies Thrift Store and the YWCA just didn’t have the capacity to accept the amount of donations available after the swap, but clothing in good repair was able to be donated to the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Anything soiled or ribbed were salvaged, and put into the donation bins for the Canadian Diabetes Association. That clothing will be shipped south to Value Villages to be sold, or recycled.
She’d love to continue to have regular clothing swaps to help people refresh their closets without creating more waste. But even if it’s free, she still cautions people to think mindfully about what they’re picking up.
“Just because it's free, doesn't mean we need to or should clutter our homes!”
For more information on the Waste Recovery and Recycling Initiative, please visit https://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/en/services/waste-reduction-and-recycling/funding-waste-reduction-and-recycling-initiative