On average, we only regularly wear a third of the clothes that we own. Most of us have T-shirts we’ve never worn, jumpers that we have forgotten about and jeans that we stopped wearing five years ago.
However, we don’t often think about getting rid of our clothes and, if we do, we often don’t know the best way to do this. Throw them away or recycle them? Sell them online? Donate them to a charity shop?
Simply throwing clothes away is very wasteful; there is always someone, somewhere, who would be very happy to own that old skirt you don’t like any more. However, selling clothes online can be quite a lot of hassle. For example, when I’ve sold jumpers and dresses on websites like eBay I only usually receive 99p or £1.99, which for me isn’t worth the time and effort.
We often want new clothes; shopping is many people’s favourite pastime. However, most of us can’t afford to pay around £20 for an item of clothing from a high-street store.
However, when I moved to Leeds to go to university and discovered Leeds Community Clothes Exchange (LCCE) everything changed. I had organised small-scale 'clothes swaps' with my friends before, everyone bringing items they didn’t wear and exchanging them with each other. Everyone always went home happy with new clothes to wear. Organisations such as LCCE adopt this idea, but on a much larger scale.
LCCE started in 2007, and has become a very popular event which happens once a month. You pay £3 to enter, and your clothes are checked (they must be clean and in good condition). You are then given one credit per item (so for example if you bring 7 items, you can choose 7 items to take home).
There is also a café selling tea, coffee and homemade cakes. The clothes exchange has become a community social event; people often spend a whole afternoon there with their friends!
Not only can you get rid of the clothes you never wear but you get that buzz of enjoyment from finding exciting new items, at a total cost of only £3! I went to the LCCE throughout my time at university and hardly ever bought expensive clothes in high-street stores. Most of my clothes are from clothes swaps, and I love the feeling when someone compliments me on what I am wearing and I tell them where I got it from! The look on their face is great when they realise how little I paid and how much fun the events are.
Similar events happen across the UK. The LCCE is one of the most successful, and people are looking to set up branches in other cities such as Bristol and Manchester.
What do you think about clothes swaps? How do you update your wardrobe?