University recycles clothing with circular fashion economy

iSEE holds sustainable clothing swap


Izzy Perpich

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environmental held a clothing swap in honor of of Earth Month at the he Channing Murray Foundation on Wednesday.

By Izzy Perpich, Contributing Writer

As part of Earth Month, the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment at the University held a sustainable clothing swap earlier this week.

On Monday and Tuesday, students were asked to drop off used or unwanted clothing at the Channing Murray Foundation in exchange for Karma currency, which can be used at Karma Trade — a thrift store in Urbana. Then, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, patrons shopped for clothes that were donated in the previous two days. 

Meredith Moore, sustainability programs coordinator at the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment said the clothing exchange event was an educational awareness opportunity. She also said online shopping and fast fashion are detrimental to the environment because of the transportation emissions, plastics and boxes involved in shipping clothes.

“We are a consumerist society,” Moore said. “We wanted people to realize the importance of secondhand shopping because they really do have a lot of purchasing power.”

We wanted people to realize the importance of secondhand shopping because they really do have a lot of purchasing power.

— Meredith Moore

Moore saw people leaving the Channing Murray Foundation with full bags of clothing, she said she believes these bags of clothing exist in place of online shopping. Items that were not taken were donated to a local shelter. 

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Moore said that she didn’t know what to expect with the clothing exchange since this was her first experience. From observing the turnout, she saw the large demand for sustainable outlets in an accessible location. Moore said iSEE did not want to turn anyone away from participating in the event, whether event-goers donated or not. 

“We will monitor and host this clothing drive to both provide an opportunity for people to donate their clothes and to avoid them throwing them away,” Moore said. “We would rather have people investing in secondhand clothes as opposed to buying new or investing in fast fashion. That’s really what the circular economy goal of this clothing swap was.”

Shallon Malfeo, president of the RSO Students for Environmental Concerns, said the clothing swap was accessible for students on campus.

“We are bringing students together to shop sustainably,” Malfeo said. “It is a way to alter the student mindset on consumerism and materialism.”

Alec Van Patten, vice President of SECS, said that the RSO has plans to hold more events like the clothing swap in the future.

“We hope to hold these events at least twice a year,” Van Patten said

Emily McKowan, executive director of the Channing Murray Foundation, said they are very supportive of the RSO and that the the group’s values of sustainability align with their own.

“Production of clothing waste has a big environmental impact,” McKowan said. “So being able to cut down on that is just one piece on the laundry list of what we can do to help the environmental supply chain.”


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