The Fifth Annual Clothing Swap at SF State is an opportunity for students to get rid of old clothes, discover some new wardrobe pieces and be a part of a great cause.
The Clothing Swap allows people to donate unwanted clothing without having to make the trip to thrift stores in the city, giving students the chance to go home with new garments without even having to pay.
A week before the event, a bin is left out in front of the Cesar Chavez lobby for students who are willing to give away their unused or unwanted clothing. Some of the items donated consist of jeans, jackets, bras and even school supplies such as binders.
Rumaldo Godinez, Student Director of the Queer and Trans Resource Center on campus, has been a part of the event since the very beginning.
“With whatever clothes remaining, we usually donate it to the SF LGBT Center for their community closet which is made for the youth that they serve,” said Godinez. “That’s the demographic that we want to help without necessarily being connected to them by a fiscal building.”
Godinez, 22, stated that the Clothing Swap collaborated with the Out of the Closet thrift store on Market street in the past, but now directly donates the remaining clothing to the LGBT+ community.
Started five years ago by the Environmental Research Center on campus, the Clothing Swap also takes part in donating the remaining clothing to youth shelters and LGBTQ+ youth. The beginning initiative of the swap focused on recycling the leftover clothes by donating to these youth in need to prevent them from being wasted or thrown away.
Jack Steinmann, Student Director of the Environmental Resource Center states that this center is the only entity trying to promote sustainability and environmental progress on campus. The best way to do so is by looking into waste management and the type of waste deemed to be unconsidered is the waste of clothing.
“The Clothing Swap is a good opportunity for students to come back, instead of throwing out their clothing after wearing it for a couple of weeks. They can bring it here and give it a new life within the community,” said Steinmann. “Like the jackets that are no longer being used can go to another student instead of a landfill bin.”
One of Steinmann’s visions is the expansion of the Clothing Swap. With the right amount of space and necessary funding, it would allow the swap to grow into an actual on-campus thrift store. Other universities such as, UC Berkeley has also implemented a thrift store onto their campus.
The first step Steinmann proposed to successfully market and expand the event would be making it more visible.
“Having access to basic needs should be a student right and we should treat it as that, we should have no stigma against it, so we should be out in the open giving out clothing and collecting clothing because it keeps our campus sustainable. That should be the priority,” said Steinmann.
Although the Clothing Swap is closed off, some students have managed to stop and pick up a few things in between classes.
Once all the clothes are collected, they are arranged into different categories of garment type for students to sift through. Located downstairs in the Rosa Parks A-C, a small makeshift thrift store is accessible to the campus. Students are able to take as many clothing items as desired.
SF State student Julia Dickau took part in donating her clothes that she received from friends and family members.
“I like the sentimentality of wearing clothes that have been loved by someone else,” said Dickau. “It also makes me feel better about not directly contributing to fast fashion and not really knowing where stuff is made, but having a pretty good idea that people weren’t really paid well or treated well.”
Dickau, 23, an intern for the Queer and Trans Resource Center believes in collecting clothes that circulate among humans rather than giving money to big clothing companies. In her perspective, swapping clothing through different people and family members gives the clothes a greater meaning.
The Clothing Swap is more than just a place to donate clothing, but also offers a friendly environment for students and the LGBT community. It’s involvement on campus showcases the care and drive the students involved uphold to create a comfortable and accessible space.