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Sustainability event fights clothing waste, unethical working conditions

Next week, the Rollins Sustainability program will host their semi-annual Swap and Shop in celebration of Earth Month. This event will combat harmful “fast fashion” trends that result in factory abuse and fuller landfills.

The Swap and Shop is just one event in an entire month of celebrating sustainability in topics including farming, electronic waste, food waste, and social movements.

On April 19, the Alfond Sports Center will open its doors to students, faculty, and other community members looking to renew their wardrobe. For $5 for students and $10 for faculty and staff, attendees are free to grab as many pieces of clothing as their heart desires or that their arms can carry.

In previous years, the Sustainability Program partnered with a local social enterprise, Other People’s Property, to build an inventory of clothes for trading. However, when Other People’s Property stopped operations last year, the event relied solely on donations collected from the Rollins community.

Despite this, the duplicate event hosted last fall ran just as smoothly as previous semesters; many students came and left with new pieces for their wardrobes.

This event is not only about giving fashionistas of every style an opportunity to revamp their closet, but it is also about combating the environmental and social burdens of the mainstream fashion industry. According to the World Resources Institute, average clothing consumption worldwide has increased by over 60 percent since 2000.

The fashion industry has become about quantity rather than quality, with trends of “fast fashion” resulting in horror stories from garment factories abroad. Pushing themselves to meet global demands, garment factories force employees to work long hours for low wages in order to cut costs. They also abuse their work environments in order to reduce their overhead costs.

The story does not have a happy ending here in the U.S., either, where 15 million tons of clothing waste are sent to landfills each year after pieces quickly go out of style.

It does not have to be end here, though. As consumers, we have the power to disrupt this harmful cycle and reject “fast fashion.” A first step towards this goal is giving and getting clothes from thrift stores and clothing swaps like the one being hosted next week. Another option is to host  a small swap between you and your friends.

The success of next week’s event counts on student and faculty participation. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to take a good look at their closets between now and next Thursday and choose items to donate. By doing so, everyone will have a chance to grab something that they like.

Clothing donations should be dropped off in Beal-Maltbie or in the clothing box in Ben and Jerry’s located on Park Avenue before April 18.

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