Here's what we did: This fall we held two clothing swaps in two neighbourhoods on two Saturdays in September; one in Davisville, Midtown Toronto, and the other in Moss Park, downtown Toronto. Some special moments: the kids at the church who decked themselves out in jewels, the donor who sent in a song about socks, losing and recovering my phone at the Moss Park swap (humans are awesome) and our wonderful volunteers in both sites.
Here's what we tweaked and what we kept from the Fall and Spring swaps: people liked the gender free clothes, especially for kids. It was more confusing for adults but mostly people rolled with it, even some dudes concerned with accidently picking up ladies clothes. Advice overheard: "just choose what you like."
We dropped the Hamilton swap. This was partly from `feeling overwhelmed by three swap weekends and shuttling mountains of clothes, but also, the two Toronto communities balance each other nicely and going forward we will look instead for a partner community in Hamilton to work with Westdale in a series of swaps.
We kept adult clothes for this swap and kept them altogether on one site in midtown.
Thanks community partners Building Roots in Moss Park and Glebe Road United Church and Manor Road United Church in Davisville who stepped up to host sites for babies and for our adult clothes (new addition to the Fall swap), as well as our returning yard hosts, city councillor Josh Matlow, Trustee Shelley Laskin and Davisville School Council for sharing information about the swap. And of course we need to acknowledge the support of a Waste Reduction Community Grant we got from the City of Toronto/ Live Green TO.
WiP member Shams el Din hosted a Repair and Reuse advice table. She shared tips on machine and hand sewing and made a lot of T-shirt bags on site.
This is now an annual event and we are building on past success, with great volunteer and institutional support, and many great donations AND lots of interest in both giving and receiving. In midtown, we ended up with around $180 in donations (so at least 36 bags of clothes) AND about 40% more donated clothes than we started with... our goal is to find new homes for all the clothes.
The amount of donations can feel overwhelming, it is easy to see how clothes can quickly feel like waste. So part of our mission is making sure this work is sustainable for all humans involved. We had to empty the churches and porches of remaining clothes after a long day of set up and running the swap. So we delayed a day, and then called on extra hands to help ferry remains to our friend's shed for storage between swaps. Building Roots also let us store the remains from the second swap for a week until we had more capacity to collect.
Our ultimate goal is to have nothing left at the end of the swaps: we want all the clothes find new homes. this is why the neighbourhood partnership between Davisville (where we do redistribute a lot of clothes but end up with more than we started with) and Moss Park (where our partner Building Roots has a neighbourhood hub already in place in the Moss Park Market, and where we get less donations and more redistribution)
We were blessed with gorgeous weather both days. Moss Park market has people lined up well before they open every Saturday, so we had plenty of shoppers checking out the wares as we put them out. There was a festive mood, lots of people shopping for their families or to redistribute at home visits as well as themselves.
At the end of both swaps we brought some of the children's clothes to Jessie's place, some of the winter clothes will go back to Davisville School for newcomers to Canada and about a carload returned to Amy's shed to be a starter for our next swaps in the Spring (aiming for March Break, in collaboration with Glebe Road United Church)
art experiments turning waste into beauty