As far back as I can remember, Boxing Day was a day that we’d sloth around in the morning, recovering from the massive Christmas Day feast. We’d have the cricket on to start the day, switching over to the Sydney to Hobart as my Dad loved to watch the yachts take off from the start line. Eventually we’d dust our food coma cobwebs off and make the drive up to the farm to have another lunch time fiesta with the other side of the family. When I was a teenager though, we began visiting Brisbane to see my sisters and a new tradition emerged – we’d head to Queen Street Mall and have a look for some bargains at the Boxing Day sales.

I’m not the biggest fan of clothes shopping at the best of times and I’d hate the chaos that accompanies the sales. I’d prefer to stay in, read a bit of a new book I got for Christmas and occasionally take a look at the telly when Adam Gilchrist hit a boundary. As an adult, I’ve fallen in love with going to op-shops to buy my clothes, digging through the racks to find some gorgeous pieces and at affordable prices all year round.

For Day 20, I’m going to chat about an experience that I had earlier this December at my first clothes swap event in Brisbane and put forward the suggestion of hosting or attending one of these events on your lazy Boxing Day.

Impacts of fast fashion

Fast fashion has a huge environmental cost globally, with recent figures highlighting that we collectively purchase 80 billion pieces of clothing each year. The production of new clothing pieces takes a considerable amount of non-renewable resources, produces greenhouse gas emissions, with costly energy, water and chemical requirements. For fast fashion items that are manufactured at cheap prices, there are several associated issues including poor working conditions during manufacture and microplastic fibres entering waterways from washing clothes made from synthetic materials.

Do you know how much water and time it takes to make a regular cotton T-shirt?

How does Australia fare?

Modern fashion encourages consumers to buy into the turnover of the four-season wardrobes, items worn for short period of time can end up in landfill and take up to 1,000 years to degrade if made out of synthetic, petroleum derived components. In Australia, four out of ten consumers will place unwanted clothing in their general waste bin rather than donating or repairing them, a YouGov survey has identified. Australians typically send 85% of the textiles that they purchase in a yearly period to landfill, this translates to 23kg per person, per year on average! War on Waste discovered that this essentially translates to 6,000kg of clothing destined towards landfill every 10 minutes, setting up a display to show punters at Martin Place, Sydney what this looks like, in the video below.

As discussed previously on Day 4 of the blog, even though unwanted items are being donated to Australian op-shops it is difficult for charities to keep up with the rapid amount of items coming through the door. In some cases, some op-shops were unable to take items as their donation bins overflowed after the Marie Kondo de-cluttering frenzy occurred in January earlier this year. To put it into context, from research conducted by the National Association of Charitable and Recycling Organisations, charities ended up footing the bill of $13 million last year to dispose of 60,000 tonnes of unusable donations.

War on Waste | Craig piles up 6,000kg of clothes in Martin Place

How long do you think it takes Australia to throw out 6,000kg of clothes? Much quicker than you think! #WarOnWasteAU

Posted by ABC TV + iview on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How it works…

How does a clothes swap work exactly? Well, attendees are asked to bring along any of their unwanted clothes, jewellery, shoes and accessories in bags. If you don’t have too much to bring along, you typically bring along a plate of food to share for the afternoon. Items are then laid out in different areas depending on what people bring, if your host is super organised they’ll have an area set aside for women’s and men’s clothing, shoes and a table for jewellery and accessories.

Once everything is placed into different piles, the swap begins and you can explore all of the different goodies that people have brought. At the end of the day, before leaving the swap, leftover items are sorted through and bagged. Everyone takes a bag of leftover items to donate to a local op-shop that you live near to divide up the organisation between everyone.

One of the parts that I found hilarious during the swap was when I’d be holding something and another woman would be looking at me intently. Initially I thought they wanted the same item and I apologised and asked if they wanted to try it on first. When they countered that the dress belonged to them, I had a bit of a giggle and they gave me help with trying it on.

For me, this year has been really challenging with my health and although I’m on the mend with my shoulder, I still can’t completely dress myself as I don’t have the physical range to lift things over my head or do things up at the back. To go conventional shopping has been out of the question, as most places rarely let more than one person in a change-room and I haven’t really felt comfortable asking for help from a busy sales rep in stores.

At the clothes swap, I had so many offers for help and complete strangers were assisting me with trying things on and even suggesting some items that could be comfortable for me with my current range limitations. I felt incredibly grateful to have so much support and it was really nice for me to be able to have access to clothes in this type of setting, it made it more accessible for my body and my wallet!

My haul and savings!

The premise of the swap is that everything you collect on the day to take home is free, as it is a community of exchange. This translates to an incredible amount of savings when you take a closer look at the quality of items that are donated and swapped. I’ve collated photography and information about all of the pieces that I found below.

Essentially, I have revamped my entire summer wardrobe and do not need to go clothes shopping anytime soon. Out of curiosity, I sat down and had a look online to work out how much I saved by attending the swap, I’m a little shocked at the fact I saved $856, with an average item value of $45!

Item NoTypeDescriptionEstimated retail priceWebsite
1ShortsJeans West Flower shorts$40.00{root_2}/categories%3C{root_2_48}
2ShortsTropical shorts$15.00
3ShirtsAEIOU Elephant T-shirt$15.00
4ShirtsAEIOU Duck T-shirt$15.00
5ShirtsBardot Led Zeppelin T-shirt$30.00
6ShirtsEdie Black Camera singlet$15.00
7ShirtsProrod White Lace camisole$15.00
8ShirtsTree of Life Button Up Blouse$50.00
9DressDavid Lawrence Flower Dress$200.00
10DressClub L Blue and Black Dress$30.00
11DressPink Boho Dress$30.00
12DressMetalcus Stripy Vest Dress$40.00
13DressOm Designs Green Print Dress$50.00
14DressPeace Angel Little Black Dress$15.00
15DressVero Moda Long Black Dress$65.00
16DressLuscious Black Dress with Flowers$56.00
17DressTropical Wear Red Halter Dress$40.00
18DressShareen Floral Dress$65.00
19SkortIndikah White and Blue Skort$70.00

Share with us!

Like the sound of a clothes swap? Grab your pals and their unwanted items and have a relaxed Boxing Day sales experience, without the crowds and the damage to your wallet this year!

Today’s feature image is of my haul from 2019’s Summer Clothes Swap, the banana shows the scale of items that I grabbed and with 19 different pieces, I’m set for clothing for a while. 🙂

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