Host a clothing swap alongside a screening of Cotton Road. Cotton Road shows the work and industrial processes within a typical cotton supply chain and asks us to reflect more deeply on the social and environmental concerns behind the Made In label.
98% of clothing sold in the United States is produced by workers overseas. Because cheap clothing prices have now become the norm (think H&M; Forever 21; or any mass retailer), few people give much thought to buying something new and even dispose of clothing after only a season or two. Americans now throw away, on average, about 68 pounds of textiles per person per year.
Hosting a clothing swap with friends is a great way to reflect on your consumption habits and attitude towards clothing. It's also an opportunity to refresh your wardrobe without spending any money.
Read on for resources and ideas and learn how you can host your own SCREEN AND SWAP - a clothing swap and screening of Cotton Road.
Big changes begin with small steps. Begin by thinking about your community and where you might be able to host your clothing swap.
You can keep it small and private and host the event in your home with friends. Or, you can think broadly about your community and draw a more diverse audience. Churches, youth centers, yoga studios, college campuses, academic learning centers, and retirement communities would all be great places.
If you're planning a more public Screen + Swap, get the word out on social media, community calendars, word of mouth and by inviting local consignment stores or vintage clothing shops to join in and hang fliers for your event.
While planning your group event, remember to personally invite people who have a passion for, interest in or experience with issues and industries represented by the film. They don't need to be experts, just people with insight or stories to share. Let people know what interested you about the film and you may find it surprising how many different people have ties to some aspect of global clothing supply chains; from farmers to fashionistas; activists to advertising execs. You might plan your invitations to target a specific interest or mix a number of the broad topics the film addresses, such as the environmental and social impacts of fast fashion; human rights; transparent and open supply chains or locally produced clothing and fashion; recycled clothing; or maybe you know someone who knows how to mend clothes and could talk about ways to make your clothing last longer.
There are a lot of guides online with tips about organizing a clothing swap. We found this one particularly useful when planning ours. But, be sure to invite both men and women! Cotton Road and the discussions it can generate will be of interest to both genders and all ages.
We gathered up a few items that helped us manage our event and create a comfortable space: folding chairs and pillows for people to sit on; a couple of large folding tables where clothing could be stacked; a small rack for hanging items; a separate table for food and drinks; and a portable video projector and speakers that we could plug into a laptop to play the DVD.
There are many ways to encourage deeper thinking about our consumption habits and the impact they have on people's lives and our planet.
Find a global awareness campaign that fits your community's interests and share information about it at your Screen + Swap; learn about a few from our website. It will be great if your participants can walk away with information so they can continue to think more deeply about ways to align their values with their habits. You can create your own handout with links to further information, or modify one of ours. See the resources link to download a copy of our simple flier.
Our Screen + Swap was on a Friday night, so we had plenty of time to linger and lead a discussion after the film. We also encouraged people to watch the film casually-- to talk with each other during the screening, get more food, or try on clothes.
We'll post a comprehensive discussion guide later this fall to help you lead a conversation; or, you can simply reflect on the scenes in the film that you found the most compelling.
However you run your Screen + Swap, we'd love to hear about it! Post images from your event on the Cotton Road Facebook page or tag us on Twitter or Instagram - #cottonroadmovie
There are bound to be a lot of clothes left over after your Screen + Swap. Ask your participants where they'd like to donate any unwanted clothing. At our event people asked us to donate remaining items to a local charity that supports survivors of domestic abuse. We bagged everything up after our event and took the remaining clothes there. The following post is excerpted from Jess Bichler's (Cotton Road's Engagement and Outreach Coordinator) Instagram site about our donation.
May 10, 2014
This morning Laura Kissel and I took the clothes leftover from our #cottonroadmovie screening and clothing swap to Vintage Values as requested by those who attended. The proceeds from sales of clothing at Vintage Values go to support survivors of domestic abuse. Cathy and Jodi sorted our donation in the back room and told us that things that aren't sold here had gone to their free store where families could shop for free but they think a lack of volunteers is the reason that store doesn't operate any longer. Everything they can't sell is picked up by the Salvation Army and is ultimately sold in bundles, probably to be made into rags and scraps or shipped to overseas clothing markets. They mentioned how many brand new items are donated, but unfortunately they often sit in people's closets for so long they start to fall apart-- shoes lose their soles and ultimately they have to be thrown away; the quality of donated clothing isn't what it used to be. Cathy shared a memory with us about how, when she was growing up, nothing would go to waste. Her family would always remove and save buttons. Her mom would remove the worn collars from her father's work shirts and sew them back on so they folded in the reverse direction to hide the worn edges. Anything too worn to wear was cut into strips and crocheted into rugs.
What can you do to waste less clothing? @cottonroadmovie #fashionrevolutionday#fashionrevolution #insideout #clothingswapFollowing
We had a great Screen + Swap at the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator as part of their Winter Film Series in January 2015. The event was co-sponsored by Wearable Collections, an awesome NYC based company that works to keep textiles out of landfills. We love their slogan: "Clothing is not garbage!"
After our swap, Wearable Collections gathered up the unclaimed clothing from our event. Thanks to everyone at BF+DA for a fun and successful evening!
For more pictures from the event, visit the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator's Facebook album.