Clothing swap promotes sustainable fashion choices 

This Wednesday, a group of three Minnesota State students coordinated a clothing drive to advocate for sustainable fashion and create awareness of the growing fast fashion industry.  

The clothing drive was a part of a feminist activism class project, where students had to form groups and generate project ideas that raised awareness about different feminist issues. Sophie Bowe, Abby Johnson, and Caitlin O’Brien chose the topic of fast fashion awareness.  

There is a saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The three young feminist activists coordinated this event to facilitate a “clothing swap.”  

Clothing donations were collected for the past month to be showcased at the clothing drive. Students donated various accessories including hats, gloves and handbags. 

“We’re going to be giving them away for free. It will be like a free shopping day; people can pick out their own clothes. They can see how much potential there is in shopping second hand as opposed to buying new things,” said Bowe. “Then whatever we have leftover, we’re going to donate to CADA, which is a women’s shelter.” 

CADA (Committee Against Domestic Abuse) is a nonprofit organization serving victims and survivors of relationship abuse and sexual violence. Based in Mankato, they serve victims throughout south-central Minnesota.

Bowe, a senior and outreach coordinator for the event, is a psychology major, minoring in gender and women’s studies. 

“Our goal with this clothing drive was to raise awareness about  the environmental impacts of the fast fashion industry, the impact it has on workers in other countries, and what we can do here, on campus, and in our own daily lives to make a difference and contribute less to the fast fashion industry, said Bowe.  

Senior Abby Johnson, a double major in psychology and gender and women’s studies, scheduled some aspects of the event. 

“Before I learned all this information, I definitely thought sustainable fashion was a lot more out of reach for me just because I am a college student. I have two jobs trying to support myself, so I don’t really have a lot of money. Getting all this information about how it can actually be affordable was just eye-opening. It got me thinking that I can be sustainable; I would not have to buy from places like SHEIN or H&M, which are fast fashion brands,” said Johnson 

The event coordinators encourage students to steer toward shopping at affordable clothing stores.

“There are many ways to shop sustainably in a cost-effective way, because I know that is the biggest concern for a lot of college students. They can support sustainable fashion by buying secondhand or swapping clothes with their friends and looking at local boutiques and people that make fashion locally instead of large corporations,” said Johnson.    

The trio also recruited their classmate Sofia Meeh to speak as a guest speaker. Meeh uses recycled materials to produce most of her own clothes. She talked about the difficulties she encountered early on when upcycling clothing and the sense of accomplishment that followed. 

“I got involved in this event because, at the beginning, when we were kind of giving ideas, I felt  this was the event that I would most want to go to. Being able to pick out a ton of free clothing just sounds awesome. It seems like it would save me a lot of time and a lot of money, and it would really surround me with a lot of my friends and community. It was the event that I was most interested in working towards and being a part of,” said O’Brian, a junior double major in psychology and in gender and women’s studies. 

The group explained that the project was intended to teach students how to orchestrate activism and learn how to do effective activism.  

“It’s teaching young feminists how to do activism correctly and basically learning from this event and learning how to continue to do activism for the rest of our lives,” said O’Brian 

An important part of the class project was for the students to familiarize themselves with problems they may encounter when doing this type of activism project.   

“When we actually go out into the world, we do have these activism projects that we want to put-out ourselves and when we do run into those problems, we know how to combat them,” said O’Brian  

O’Brien explains that sustainable fashion is also a matter of preventing large clothing brands from exploiting factory workers, harming the environment, and making money off young adults.  

“If someone comes in and they’re like, for the past couple months, I’ve needed a hoodie so bad, let me pop into this event, and they get three hoodies, they saved themselves money as well as not having a company profit from them, exploiting more workers, and damaging the environment. It’s really helping everyone involved,” said O’Brien.  

Header photo: Minnesota State students coordinated a clothing drive to advocate for sustainable fashion in the CSU Wednesday. (Courtesy Sophie Bowe)

Write to Ephrata Bezuayene at

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