LAUNCH Lessons:
Clothing Swap 6th-12th

Created in partnership with Grades of Green Youth Leader, Samantha Torres.

This lesson address the following Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) within the Performance Expectations of NGSS for Grades: K-2 and 3-5

  • Asking Questions and Defining a Problem
  • Planning and Carrying out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Obtaining Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Once the Green Team is formed, students will analyze many metrics and data in their various environmental projects

Project Management

  • Students will identify routines to accomplish their goal
  • Students will practice leadership skills and collaborative work

Evaluation and Assessment

Students will track and evaluate the impact of their various projects

Table of Contents

A NEW wardrobe for me?

A new wardrobe for FREE! Keep clothing, accessories, and textile waste out of the landfill by hosting a Clothing Swap at your school or in your community. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you will also revamp your wardrobe!

Within this lesson, you’ll find various downloadable resources. For your convenience, you can access them all in one place by clicking on this link to view them in a Google Drive folder.

LAUNCH Lesson Details

Why It’s Important

When it comes to fashion, giving our old clothes a new home is one of the most sustainable actions we can take. Less than 1% of used clothing is recycled into new clothing. The average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothing every year! Let’s stop filling our landfills with clothes and start swapping instead! 

What You Will Accomplish

By organizing a clothing swap, you will save clothing from landfills and give it a new home! Along with the environmental benefit, participants can save money and/or receive items that they may not have been able to afford at a store.

Why Should You Host a Clothing Swap?

The resources provided can be shown as a slideshow or printed out as individual worksheets for students to learn.

Clothes Pollute!

The fashion industry has a major role in global carbon emissions per year. Over the course of a year, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions. That is more greenhouse gasses than flights and maritime shipping combined! [1]

Clothes Go to Landfills!

Every year, the average American throws away roughly 81 pounds of clothing. Less than 1% of this clothing is recycled into new garments which causes a majority of textile waste to enter our landfills. [1]

Clothes Use Water!

Litter affects animal and human health. It’s estimated that over 1 million land animals and 100 million sea animals die each year after eating or becoming trapped in litter. Litter also releases chemicals and microparticles as it breaks down in the environment. These toxic particles end up in the air that we breathe, the soil where we grow food and in the water we drink. [2]

Why the Climate Crisis is a Social Justice Issue

At its core, environmental justice is defined as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies” by the Environmental Protection Agency. Due to the inequalities and inequities of accessible sustainability practices, individuals who are disenfranchised unwillingly face the effects of climate change at a greater degree. This is especially apparent in neighborhoods that house minorities and people of color due to other policies reducing opportunities available to them.

Watch these two short videos to learn why it’s important to reduce waste!

Think About It!

Pre-Activity Questions

  • How can your school and community benefit from hosting a clothing swap?
  • What are 2 benefits that clothing swaps have on the environment?
  • Do you currently see the need for a clothing swap? 
  • Are there any local organizations that you can partner with to help make your clothing swap more successful?
  • How does hosting a clothing swap alleviate Environmental Justice?

Take Action:
How to LAUNCH Clothing Swap

Follow the steps below to set up a successful Clothing Swap Campaign at your school! Need help? Contact us!

Step 1: Determine Participants

Use the Clothing Swap Sign Up Sheet to have participants sign up. 

  • A Student Group (such as a club, before/after school program, non-school organization)
  • A whole class
  • The whole school

Step 2: Assign Roles

Using the Clothing Swap Team Organizer Worksheet, assign who in your group is responsible for ongoing tasks leading up to your clothing swap and tasks pertaining to the day of the event. Roles and jobs to consider include: contacting and keeping in touch with the people in charge of your venue, social media outreach, placing in-person flyers, bin collection/monitoring, clothing display set up, and managing the event.

Step 3: Find a Location

Determine a location in your school or community that has the space to fit clothing displays and participants in the swap. Ideally, it is held indoors, to allow you to set up for the event the day before and avoid weather-related issues. Ideas include: school cafeteria, rec centers, etc. Reach out to whoever is in charge of these venues well before to solidify the date of your event.

Discuss with your group if you want to allow participants in the swap to be able to try on clothing items at the swap. Keep that in mind when choosing a venue.

Step 4: Preparing for the Event

After you have confirmed a date for your event, place bins around your school or other strategic collection places in your community. Get the word out about your event and the exact location of your collection bins via social media outreach, flyers, school bulletin announcements, etc. 

Helpful Tips:

  • Make sure your bins are clearly labeled for your event to avoid confusion. 
  • Set a clear collection period for your event and make that time frame known to your participants. 
  • Assign someone in your group to check on the bins every day and take the clothing home with them or to a storage area, until the event. Doing this will avoid issues with your bins overflowing and potential issues with stealing. 
  • If you want to ensure that participants only take as much clothing from the swap as they donated, buy tickets and make a spreadsheet for check-in at the event that will say how many clothing items each participant will be able to take from the event. Have participants “check-out” and “pay” with their tickets with other members of your group before they leave. 
  • Measure how many pounds of clothing you collected before and after the swap. 
  • Use this Clothing Swap Event Worksheet to keep track of all the logistics for your event.

Step 5: Get the Word Out

Let everyone know that you are hosting a Clothing Swap. Using the facts and infographic above, educate your friends and family on why it’s important. Here are a few ways you can get the word out:

  • Post flyers around your school/community
  • Create a blurb for your school’s newsletter and/or website
  • Create or use an existing social media account to post details about your Clothing Swap in addition to why it is important.
  • Host a Walking Assembly using the Clothing Swap Walking Assembly Script as a guide.

Step 6: Gather Proper Materials for the Event

Establish where you will get tables, chairs and clothing racks for your event. Don’t forget items that you will need for a check-in desk for your own team such as a table and chairs.

Ask local clothing stores if they are willing to let you borrow clothing racks and hangers for your event.

Step 7: Setting Up the Event

  • It is recommended that you set up the day before your event, to give your team time to gather any materials you realize you may need during your set up. 
  • Be sure to weigh all of the clothes you collected and make note of how much textile waste you are diverting
  • Set up your check-in and check-out tables. 
  • Bonus! include infographic posters or signs at your event with information showing why it is important to have clothing swaps and why you are hosting one.

Be creative! Utilize tables and racks to display your collected clothing in enticing ways. Ideas include: sections based on age, color, etc!

Step 8: Host Your Event

Now that you’ve put in all the work, it’s time to host your event. Make sure to have some of your team sitting at check-in and check-out tables and the rest of your team helping people pick out clothes, refold, etc!

Step 9: Track Your Impact

Use the data of the weight of clothes before and after the swap to figure out how many pounds of clothes were redistributed to new homes!

Step 10: Donate Your Extras

Instead of donating your extra clothes to Goodwill/Salvation Army/ etc, donate your clothes to a homeless shelter or women’s shelter, who will give the clothes directly to those in need. Include this on your flyers, so participants know where the extra clothes are going.

Reflection Questions

How’d It Go?

  • What did you learn about by planning and hosting a clothing swap? 
  • What would you change or do better next time?
  • What personal changes regarding clothing will you make to reduce your impact on climate change?

Report Impact

Congratulations!! You’ve implemented Clothing Swap! Don’t let all that hard work go unnoticed. Submit your results by clicking the button below.

Project ongoing? No problem! Let us know what you’ve done so far. 

By reporting your impact, Grades of Green can:

  • CELEBRATE and elevate your students’ hard work and success. 
  • Offer our programs FREE for all students across the globe. 
  • AWARD stipends and certificates to hard-working educators and students.

Please take a few minutes to submit your results. Thank you!

Congrats on completing the Clothing Swap Eco-Lesson! 

Did you enjoy this lesson? Find your next project here