Event helps environment by preparing old clothes


Adam Nelson, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies at Pitt, finds that the crotch of… Adam Nelson, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies at Pitt, finds that the crotch of his jeans often becomes worn from riding his bike so much. And instead of throwing the jeans away and buying a new pair, he sews the holes with patches.

Nelson read about an event in which people could bring in old clothes to trade or repair, and suggested to Free the Planet, Pitt’s chapter of the national student environmental movement, to hold a similar one.

Free the Planet went through with the idea and called the event Swap-o-Palooza.

Swap-o-Palooza was so successful this February that Free the Planet hosted Swap-o-Palooza II yesterday in the Kurtzman Room of the William Pitt Union.

“We saved over 500 articles of clothing in February,” Nelson said, “and we’re hoping to save anywhere from 600 to 1,000 today.”

Wendy Tremayne is the creator of Swap-O-Rama-Rama, an event designed to be an alternative to consumerism. Since 2005, the idea has spread to more than 40 cities from Jerusalem to Pittsburgh to Los Angeles.

Nelson directed students walking into the Kurtzman Room with bags of clothes to the “drop-off table.” Members of Free the Planet then sorted through the donated clothes so that students could “shop.” Along the perimeters of the room were tables for repairs and members selling vegan baked goods.

Lindsay Blotzer, the future co-president of Free the Planet, was mending a faded turquoise sweatshirt at a table covered with thread, buttons, paints and scraps. She had cut the front of the sweatshirt to make it more fitted and to cover the Volcom label. Other students were manning the irons and sewing machines.

The leftover clothing, saved from the landfill, is donated to either Salvation Army or Goodwill.

“The important thing is not that people get free clothes, but that people reuse,” said Nelson. “We tend to mostly recycle, but it is best to reduce and reuse.”

Nelson also believes that there should be a fourth “R” tacked onto the end of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:” Repair.

“We throw away things, like televisions and toaster ovens, instead of repairing them,” Nelson said, “because we don’t realize how easy it is to repair them.”