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clothing swaps

When used clothing surpasses fast fashion

When used clothing surpasses fast fashion

Alicia Polacok from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability shares what she learned about sustainable fashion and how to waste less clothing.

The Sustainable Fashion Forum was held in Portland in April, providing an opportunity for those in the fashion industry – and those who may be curious (like me!) to learn more – to have an open dialogue about the social and environmental effects fashion has on our world and what we can do to improve it. 

A panel of experts spoke on a variety of topics from cities around the country. There were plenty of Portland connections too, including panelists, stylists and more.

From learning about fair trade certified clothing and what personal stylists can do for you, to thinking about repurposing and repairing, the day was packed with new ideas, tips and tricks, and professionals who can help if you need more inspiration!

Repair, Repurpose, Reinvent

The world of fashion has an overproduction issue. We have plenty of clothes to choose from, so why not wear what you already own, or shop at thrift stores to add to your wardrobe in new ways. Extending the life of our clothing is key and we can do this by wearing what’s in our closet. Organize by color, category and try new things together. One stylist said if you get compliments, then it is working! Confidence is key.

Here’s an idea from a stylist that I am going to try too: Take out 10-15 of your favorite pieces from your closet and put them away for a week. This will force you to wear other stuff you have instead and experiment with different styles.

Another stylist who specializes in buying used clothes at local thrift stores gave this advice: Shop early and often and return to the same places. Once you find some signature pieces, have them altered to fit your body type. Know your body type and measurements, especially when shopping online. Try an item in a new way before getting rid of it, especially if it’s a signature piece. Wear it inside out, backwards, upside down, or experiment and mix-and-match with pieces you already own. Fashion is about breaking the rules with shapes, colors and textures.

A collective path to sustainability

The forum also shared what happens to clothes that make their way to donation centers that can’t use them. Not surprisingly, a large percentage are sent abroad. It is tough to combat these practices, however there are alternatives.

The Fair Trade Certified campaign, We Wear Fair, informs shoppers who is behind the clothes we buy, supporting livelihoods for factory workers and creating transparency in the fashion industry. Consumers drive change when they shop their values, so get informed on brands that are certified by learning more with the guide to fair trade clothing.

FABSCRAP is trying to do something about reusable fabric. Sorting is a difficult but important part of the process by separating out the types of materials that are recyclable. Fabrics that can be recycled are cotton, polyester and wool. Mixed materials may end up as “shoddy”, which is a shred material and not recyclable.

FABSCRAP started in response to waste in the fashion industry in New York City, and shows those in the industry that there is financial and environmental value in materials, by offering reuse and recycling options instead.

The Renewal Workshop in Cascade Locks, Oregon, is about waste minimization. They take discarded apparel and textiles and turn them into Renewed Apparel, upcycled materials or recycling feed stock. They provide the apparel industry a circular and sustainable solution and offer customers a way to become zero waste consumers.

There was so much good stuff shared at the event. You can learn more from these related resources:




Shwop is your local membership swap shop

Shwop is your local membership swap shop

Shwop is a membership-based swap boutique for the whole family. It is the smart way to shop and swap your unwanted or unused items in your closet, drawers and jewelry boxes. Everyone shops, members swap!

Owner Marci Pelletier is celebrating both the shop’s seventh anniversary and a recent membership drive that reached 1,000 members. Marci is celebrating both highlights on April 20, 2019.

She found the current location in Sellwood in October 2018 after she outgrew a few other places in Portland. The inventory comes from members and takes items for the family, including men’s and kid items too. They don’t care about seasons and if it’s the right time of year (think sweaters in the summer!) like some used clothing stores do. And they aren’t brand or style specific, which also sets them apart from consignment shops.

The website includes a menu of accepted items, including:

  • Clothes – pants, shirts, sweaters

  • Shoes

  • Jewelry

  • Coats, jackets, fleece

  • Exercise attire

  • Belt, scarves, hats

Marci shares shop and volunteer needs through social media and frequent membership communications. There is structure around volunteering for those who have capacity to help and she welcomes volunteers to sort on Mondays, when the store is closed.

She has offered free pop-up stores for schools during conferences and worked with teachers on clothing drives, particularly in outer Southeast Portland. She sees a need to help others who may have fallen on hard times. Twice a year, she hosts free weekends with no questions asked.

She is hosting events, like tie dye and upcycled t-shirt workshops. These are free to members and open to the public for a small fee.

There is recycling, and reuse efforts made for items not sellable or wearable. Some textiles and fabrics find homes through relationships with artists; items like denim, flannel and cashmere that can be upcycled into usable, sellable goods.

Here are several ways to Shwop!

  1. Become a member: Swap to your heart's content.

  2. No-swap shopping: Just stop by and shop.

  3. Donate: Clean your closet of those items you're not wearing, and they'll donate a shopping voucher to others in need.

Curious about this membership-based swap shop? Learn more about Marci from a previous blog post, get your questions answered online or visit the store for yourself!

Love your stuff

Love your stuff

This Valentine’s Day, fall in love with Portland local resources to find ways to be resourceful and get more out of your stuff.

Borrow your way to more love

Do you love cooking?

Portland has many options for you to borrow kitchen tools to try them without purchasing new items. Expand your kitchen knowledge or take a food workshop at a kitchen share. NorthNortheast and Southeast Portland residents can connect with each other and find a new gadget to love.

Already thinking about giving your garden or home some love?

For those with home, yard or garden projects, locate the tool lending library based on where you live. The Green Lents Community Tool Library in East PortlandNorthNortheast or Southeast all offer residents low-to-no-cost options. Find home improvement project ideas from previous blog posts.

Or are you ready for a little space?

Clear your closet with Swap Positive, your go-to for multiple swap events throughout the year, including those for families. Share clothes and accessories you don’t love so much anymore with folks who might enjoy something different.

Keep what you love

Ready to repurpose a favorite chair or locate a well-loved heirloom?

Explore Portland’s many second-hand stores to find new-to-you clothing, furniture, electronics, household or craft items, salvage building materials and more. 

Do you have favorite items you have loved so much they need a fix?

Repair PDX offers residents free fixes for bikes, small appliances, clothing and more. Monthly repair cafes bring volunteers who love to fix stuff together with those who have broken items that need fixing.  

Find more ideas to create more love and less waste at New Dream. #morelovelesswaste

Swap and share your way to savings for the school year ahead

Swap and share your way to savings for the school year ahead

School days are coming! Channel your creativity and resourcefulness to get kids off to a great start. Swap and share items you already have, but no longer need, to keep kids outfitted for activities inside and outside the classroom.

Host a clothing swap

Hosting a clothing swap with friends and neighbors is a fun and easy way to share kids’ clothes, toys, books and sports equipment, and donate anything that’s left. 

A clothing swap involves getting a bunch of people together to exchange clothes and other items you no longer wear, and offering them free of charge to others by swapping them instead. Swap events are a great excuse to get together with friends or meet new people, all while giving your stuff another life and helping everyone save money and avoid buying new.

Swap Positive is a local resource that provides all you need to know about attending, hosting and getting involved with swaps in Portland. There are options for family swaps and those specific to household stuff or clothes of every size.

Center for a New American Dream put together this video about hosting or participating in a clothing swap that can help you plan your own swap!

Find used sports equipment

Don’t forget about sports gear and equipment – items for school and recreation leagues can add to your budget. From cleats to uniforms, there are ways to find used items through swapping, borrowing and purchasing gently used goods through your friends, neighbors or Craigslist.

Join a swap and play space

Join one of the swap and play spaces around Portland to connect with other families with children. Swap and plays offer an opportunity to swap outgrown clothing, toys and gear, share community play space and also connect with other parents and kids in your neighborhood.

Portland swap and play spaces are membership organizations and vary in hours, activities, events and ways to get involved. They are Southside Swap & PlaySt Johns Swapnplay and Woodlawn Swap n Play

Check out other back to school resources in our previous kids in school posts.

Shwop is a year-round swap shop for Portlanders

Shwop is a year-round swap shop for Portlanders

Alicia Polacok, from Resourceful PDX partner Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, stopped by Shwop in Southeast Portland and spoke with owner Marci Pelletier about a new take on swapping.

Marci Pelletier has been thrift shopping for 27 years. And owning her own business isn’t anything new either. She’s been involved with start-ups and financial companies most of her professional life. Starting a swapping business seemed like a natural fit. Marci opened Shwop three years ago. After outgrowing a space in Woodstock, she’s been in the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood since 2013.

“Shwop is a clothing swap boutique where people pay a membership fee and then swap clothes,” said Marci. There are over 600 members who swap clothes, shoes and some household goods. Marci wants her shop to have a community feeling – offering women, men and kids a place to meet each other, find usable items at a deep discount and get the retail therapy that many of us crave.

The average person throws away 65 pounds of clothing a year. Swapping provides a different way to donate unwanted or unneeded clothes and reinvigorate your own wardrobe by shopping at Shwop.

Shwop isn’t a consignment store, nor does Marci buy clothes. Instead, members pay a fee to harness the stock. Marci keeps track of everything that comes through the door and then sorts and tags it for member store credit. Members are then free to shop for items they want to take home, matching their credit.  

Marci also works with artists to upcycle or repurpose not-so-perfect items that come into the store. One artist uses denim jeans as her canvas. One classroom of first to third graders at Franciscan Montessori Earth School use stained and worn out t-shirts for weaving rag rugs. The rugs sold at their school auction for $1,300 each!

Portland residents are welcome to learn more about Shwop online or by visiting the store to become a member.  

Save money on kids' clothes

Save money on kids' clothes

Kids grow fast! Finding gently used clothes at secondhand stores and clothing swaps is a great way to save money and help teach kids about the value of resourceful living. As kids move through clothes from growing up, playing hard, or the inevitable lost-and-found bin, parents need affordable options and tips for saving money on kids’ clothing.

Some of Portland's used children's clothing stores and resale shops are filled with great quality, and sometimes never worn, clothes and shoes for all ages. They allow parents to buy the right size clothes for the right season for their ever growing kids. When you’re done with those clothes, you can sell them back at some of these same shops so another family can use them.

Swapping clothes with friends and neighbors is another option, especially connecting with those who have kids older than yours, where a cycle of hand-me-downs can happen. 

Local resources such as sewing classes, cobblers and tailors can help you repair, rather than retire, garments with small tears, missing buttons and broken zippers. Visit a Portland-area Repair Café for free assistance on mending and fixing clothes.

Metro Parent maintains a comprehensive list of consignment shops in and around Portland. Look for coupons for many of these shops in your print or mobile Chinook Book.