As the season changes, please consider taking a few hours to clean your drawers and closets. As you sort and organize summer and winter belongings, pull out unwanted items: clothing that doesn’t fit, accessories that no longer suit your lifestyle, sale items that did not work out… Be sure to include those unused but well meaning gifts – such as books you don’t want to read or holiday sweatshirts embellished with merry pigs. (Sorry, Mom!) Give these items to friends, neighbors or local charities, sell them at garage sales or on-line, post them as free-bees on local bulletin boards or bring them to a clothing swap!

A clothing swap is a fun, ecological way to get new-to-you clothes and give away unwanted reusables. Yes, the term swap is a somewhat of a misnomer, but that is how it was introduced to me in the early 80’s, and the name stuck. Since then I have organized one or more swaps per year and have saved tens of thousands of dollars for myself and many other people. (i.e., $500 per year x 25 years = $12,500.)

Whether you prefer small intimate gatherings or large public events, the idea is pretty simple: invite people to bring unwanted clothing, accessories and perhaps small reusables. Have them to put their goods out in an organized manner. Then everyone can take what they want – for themselves, their family and perhaps friends. The remainder is boxed up and given to non-profits. Often magical events, swaps help ease tight budgets and allows you to try on and perhaps take home items you would never dream of buying. Swaps also helps spread the wealth, raises awareness about reuse and reduces the amount going to landfill.

We at LITE enjoy advising potential organizers, posting swaps to our announcement list and collaborating. It would be great to have the assistance of an ongoing pool of swap lovers – especially some focused on kids for back to school swaps, prom dresses (see article below) and costumes/gifts/toys. For those that want to organize your own swaps, kits are available for low rental fee: portable racks, 100+ hangers, sample signs and invitations.


Resources and related articles:

How to Prepare For A Swap:, left column

Non-profits that accept quality goods for reuse:


Dressing for Success Program
570 14th St Ste 5, Oakland CA 94612
@ Clay & Jefferson, (2 blocks west of 12th St BART)
510 463-4100
See web site for drop-off locations & hours
Accepts gently-worn, work-appropriate clothing and accessories for distribution to female and male job seekers.
414 Mason St Ste 501 @ Geary
(1 block west of Union Sq)
San Francisco CA 94702
Mon-Thu 9am-4pm
Accepts Donations
Men’s and women’s interview appropriate clothing and accessories that are professional, contemporary, in excellent
condition, cleaned, pressed, and on hangers – no bags or boxes.
Brides Against Breast Cancer
Portland OR
503 252-3955
Accepts donations of new and used wedding dresses, accessories, shoes, and estate jewelry. The items are sold and the proceeds are used to grant memorable wishes to terminal breast cancer patients. Dresses that cannot be resold due to torn hems, wine stains or color imperfections are turned into beautiful bride quilts. Stitchers cut apart gowns, remove embellishments and transform the fabrics into a queen size quilt top.