“Educate, equip and engage students to live and serve like Jesus.”
These are the words written on the walls of the Taylor World Outreach (TWO) office, and serve as a reminder for TWO’s mission statement.
They are currently being lived out through the efforts of TWO co-directors sophomores Katie Herman and Izzy Herb, junior Lindy Peklo and MAHE student Kait Bedel, in their clothing exchange happening today, April 26.
This swap encourages students to recycle and revamp their wardrobes in an environmentally responsible way. To do this, students can exchange old clothing for new pieces, also donated by students.
In the previous week, students were given the opportunity to donate their excess clothing in exchange for one ticket per item. Almost all clothing that was washed and in good or gently used condition was accepted, excluding items like socks and underwear.
Today, all of the items will be laid out outside the student center, and those who previously donated can take their tickets to trade for new clothing from 7-8:30 p.m.
This event has been put on by TWO for several years. Like many spring events, it was canceled last year due to COVID-19, but it is now the first TWO event to return almost identically to its original form. While a larger space had to be sourced in order to do the event with enough room to socially distance, the rest remains the same.
“This is the first event we've done this year that has looked pretty much similar to what we've done in the past COVID-wise,” said Peklo. “For this one, we’ve already had a foundation, which is really nice,” said Herman.
After the event, all excess clothing will then be donated to Helping Hands and other similar organizations that provide for financially at-risk families in Grant County.
This fulfills one of TWO’s branches of Community Outreach. Through community outreach, students are given the opportunity to serve those in and around Upland. TWO also has a larger branch of World Outreach that hopes to fulfill the same goal on a grander scale.
“This (event) falls under both of those,” said Erb. “Keeping clothes sustainably exchanged between students, but then also raising awareness about some of the unethical ways that clothing is distributed in other parts of the world.”
Currently, clothing is one of the largest polluters of the world. Since fabric is hard to decompose, disposed clothing often takes up a large amount of space in landfills and oceans.
The problem is compounded by the continual production of clothing. Not only is more clothing being produced than there is space for, but the mass production of clothing is often at the expense of vulnerable people working in dangerous conditions.
The TWO leaders acknowledged that it’s very easy to partake in fast fashion, especially for students. Peklo said that she knows the appeal of a $5 shirt, especially if a person is on the hunt for a specific piece.
“I think a lot of time accessibility is easy for us to go to, rather than search for more ethical ways.” she said. “Try going to Goodwill or exchanging with your friends instead of just purchasing something online. You don't know how their clothing process works or who makes the clothing, or what goes into it.”
This initiative is one of many student-run opportunities to partake in more ethical clothing. On Saturday, May 1, a similar event will be taking place where students are given the space and opportunity to sell old clothing garage sale-style. The event will be hosted outside of the student center as well.
Additionally, there are multiple businesses on campus that curate thrifted items and upsell them, often through Instagram or Shop the Loop. Others make and alter their own clothing as well.
“You don't need to do a shopping trip to get all these brand new pieces to revamp your closet,” said Peklo. “You can often take what other people are tired of and be creative with it.”