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Anvil Fashion Swap Featured on Apr 08, 2010
Find a nice piece of clothing you no longer wear, and swap it with a friend. We'll show you how.
When you swap a piece of clothing instead of buying new, you'll eliminate about 29 lbs of CO2.
1500 people have reduced CO2 emissions by 21.9 tons by completing this challenge so far. That's equal to turning off the electricity of 28 homes for about 1 month!
Anvil Fashion Swap – Earth Day Sweepstakes!
Anvil Knitwear is awarding $50 on-line gift certificates to five lucky participants of the Fashion Swap challenge. Just accept this challenge during April 2010 to be automatically entered in this contest. More about Anvil Knitwear and the contest details are here.
And remember, the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day is April 22, so plan to get outside and take a simple action to benefit our planet.
- Manufacturing and delivering clothes requires energy and generates climate-changing CO2.
- Over 20 billion pounds of clothing ends up in our landfills every year. An estimated 1 in 10 clothing items gets bought, never worn, and simply thrown away.
- A 2008 study found that almost half of the clothes in British wardrobes hadn’t been worn at all in the past year. That’s 2.4 billion items of unworn clothing
Your clothes deserve to have a life. You go out; so should they. If your clothes could talk… well, that would be a little strange. But, they’d probably tell you they want to be worn by someone. If you have pieces of clothing that aren’t being used, give them a new life by moving them out of your closet and into someone else’s. Better yet, swap clothes. Show someone else’s unworn item of clothing the love it deserves.
The Carbon Connection
It’s almost certain that, unless you’ve sewn them yourself, your clothes were manufactured in another state or another country. A pair of jeans, for example, probably traveled by road, train, or ship to get to the store where you bought them and finally home to your closet. And before they ever made it to the store for you to buy, those jeans needed to be manufactured in a factory. Cloth was cut and sewn; a zipper was added. Manufacturing clothes takes energy and using energy generates CO2.
The cloth in a pair of jeans or in a t-shirt has its own carbon story. The manufacturing and transportation of cloth consumes energy, too. And before there’s cloth, there’s the raw material. For a cotton t-shirt, cotton was grown on farms. There are energy costs associated with raising that cotton, harvesting it, and shipping it off to the mill where it gets made into cloth. Pretty involved, huh? For an interactive look at the steps and people involved in getting new clothes to your closet, check out a t-shirt’s carbon footprint by visiting Anvil’s Track My T website.
Why are we suggesting that you swap clothing? Whether it’s a t-shirt, a sweater, or a pair of jeans, we reduce CO2 emissions when we prolong the useful life of clothing. The CO2 formed in the early parts of clothing’s life cycle is already in the air. For example, by passing a sweater on to somebody who will wear it, you may be eliminating — at least for a while — the need for that person to buy a new, similar sweater. And that means delaying or eliminating the need for a sweater to be manufactured and transported around the country or the world. The net result of simply passing on a sweater is a real reduction in energy use and CO2 emissions.
Getting It Done
Here are a few suggestions to help you with this Challenge:
- The first thing you need to do is realistically and honestly evaluate the clothing you currently have. Did you wear that jacket at all this past year? If not, you’re probably not going to wear it this year either. Pass it on.
- Now that you have clothes you want to move out of your house, it’s time to swap. Start simple. You may already be trading clothes with your friends. If not, that’s a great place to start.
- Next, how about throwing a clothing swap party? You could always organize something large-scale for your college, club, school, or church. But it can be easier and a lot more fun to just throw a smaller get-together for a few of your friends or colleagues. There are lots of ideas on exactly how to set up and run a clothing swap party. For starters, have everyone bring 5 or 6 big items, a few accessory items, and then some sort of potluck food item. Face it. Eating and listening to music during the swap adds to the fun. For more ideas, see the links in the Learn More section below.
- “Borrowing” clothes is also an option. You may already be borrowing your friends’ clothes or raiding your family’s closets at home. Don’t forget your grandmother’s closet! Vintage! Anything that keeps you from needing to buy new clothes and that gives old, unused clothes a new lease on life is fair game!
- Don’t throw away old clothing. According to the EPA, landfills in the United States receive about 20 billion pounds of old clothing each year, nearly all of which should be reused or recycled instead. Whatever clothes people don’t take home from your swap party, be sure those get donated to a local charity thrift store.
- When you can, consider buying clothes that are well put together and that can hold up to long-term wear. Whether it means you wear a jacket longer yourself or that the same jacket can be worn by one or two people after you pass it on, carbon savings are realized by having the jacket worn longer.
- While you’re at it, try to buy clothing made from organic cotton or other eco-friendly fibers. T-shirts made from organic cotton, such as those made by Anvil, are made from cotton grown without the use of pesticides and petrochemical fertilizers. Organic farming reduces the amount of pesticides and chemicals that leach into our water table and makes farms healthier for farmers and their families and communities.
Have you attended a clothing swap? How was it run? What tips can you share with your fellow Rallyers on swapping clothes? Please share your thoughts, stories, and suggestions in the forum section below. If you have photos of your clothing swap party or even your loot, consider sharing them as well.
Rules of the Challenge
This Challenge asks you to look in your closet, find one item of clothing that is still in decent condition, and then swap it for another item of clothing you can use. By swapping this one item of clothing, you’ll be preventing the creation and release of an estimated 29.2 lbs of CO2 — and so will your friend. (Your friend should join the Rally and get credit, too!) This Challenge can be repeated each time you swap an item. But remember, please don’t accept this Challenge for clothing items you have already swapped. Carbonrally is all about taking new actions to reduce energy consumption and CO2. If this Challenge inspires you to swap an item of clothing, please accept it!
Track My T (interactive site showing how an Anvil t-shirt goes from raw cotton to a finished t-shirt in your closet, and how Anvil limits its carbon footprint along the way)
Videojug: How to Host a Clothing Swap Party
Planet Green: Throw the Perfect Clothing Swap Party
GreenBiz: CO2 Comes Out of the Closet
See the Math
Let’s start with the known or estimated numbers:
- Let’s start with a study from Cambridge University that found the energy needed to produce an average 100% cotton t-shirt is 47 megajoules. This number includes energy associated with growing and producing the cotton, the creation of the cloth at a mill, the manufacture of the cloth into the shirt, and many various transportation stages along the way. source
- A megajoule is equal to one million joules, which is equal to 0.3 kilowatt hours (kWh). So that means it takes the equivalent of 14.1 kWh (47 times 0.3 kWh) to get a t-shirt to market.
- We can then find pounds of carbon dioxide using a known conversion factor of 1.55 lbs CO2 per 1 kWh. This conversion factor accounts for a mixed use of various fossil fuels. This gives us 21.9 lbs CO2 per t-shirt (14.1 kWh times 1.55 lbs CO2 per kWh). source
- Ah, but you may want to swap something larger than a t-shirt. So we’re going to increase the CO2 numbers based on the mass of the clothing item. The idea is that the more material that goes into a piece of clothing, the more energy was required to bring it to market and therefore more carbon dioxide was formed in the process. The t-shirt in the study had a mass of 200 grams (about 7 ounces). A blouse in the same study was 250 grams (almost 9 ounces), which is just over half a pound. A pair of jeans or a sweater are each close to 1 pound each. So we are going to double our CO2 numbers from the t-shirt to approximate the CO2 from the more massive clothing items you are likely to swap in this Challenge. That gives us 43.8 lbs of CO2 (21.9 lbs CO2 times 2).
- Now it’s time for a little life-cycle adjustment. Think about where the carbon savings come from when you swap an item of clothing from your closet. If swapping your item of clothing means someone no longer needs to buy a new item of clothing, then you are preventing the release of what we estimate to be 43.8 lbs of CO2. However, it probably is not going to be a 100% replacement. If it’s used clothing you’re swapping, perhaps the person with whom you’ve swapped won’t be able to wear it as long and will need to buy another used item or a new item to replace it. We are therefore going to reduce our estimate by one-third and call it a savings of 29.2 lbs of CO2 per article of clothing.
And remember, doing the right environmental thing can also save you some money. If you swap for a new-to-you dress and that keeps you from buying a new one, that’s money in your pocket. May your clothes have a long, useful life — no matter who ends up wearing them!
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