A rack of clothing on display at Lehigh's Pop-Up Swap Shop in the Global Commons at Williams Hall. The pop-up gave students the opportunity to not only donate unwanted items such as clothing, but also the opportunity to exchange their items for other goods. (Shana Lichaw/B&W Staff)

Pop-Up Swap Shop facilitates clothing exchange

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One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This is the idea the students behind Lehigh’s Pop-Up Swap Shop,  a thrift-trading shop, hope to prove.

Members of the community are encouraged to donate unwanted items such as clothing articles, school supplies and dorm decor, like tapestries and hanging lights. With each donation, students have the opportunity to exchange their items for other goods.

Any monetary donations will go toward the shop itself and educational presentations on sustainable practices.

“I think this event is meant to inspire students to think differently about what items are important to them —what brings them joy, what they find useful and what they would like to see used by others,” said Delicia Nahman, a Lehigh University sustainability officer.

Nicole McCallum, ’18, described the pop-up as the perfect opportunity for students to clean out their closets.

“(People can) trade some things that are unwanted or outdated for something better,” McCallum said.

McCallum joined the project because she wanted to make a difference on campus. She said that the more people who participate by donating and exchanging, the bigger the impact the shop will have on the environment.

Haley Robb, ’21, said buying used clothes could cut down on a huge amount of waste.

Robb said usually when people think of reusable goods, they think of items like water bottles and shopping bags. However, when it comes to clothes, people don’t disregard items because they can’t be reused, but because they no longer like them.

“The fast fashion industry is a whole new beast,” Robb said. “People feel the need to go for the next trend and suddenly have too many clothes.”

The idea for the pop-up shop formed through the collaboration of The Mending Project, Lehigh Eco House and Lehigh Eco-Reps.

The Mending Project has done alteration nights in the past, redesigning and altering students’ clothing for this year’s Recyclemania. Eco-Reps hosted a clothing swap earlier this year, and Eco House had an idea to do a dress swap.

The pop-up shop will be a combination of their efforts.

“The event is really exciting because its really being driven passionately by students who care about their ‘zero-waste’ generation,” Nahman said.

Zero-waste is a type of lifestyle that focuses on eliminating the use of disposable products. In attempt to further reduce waste, Nahman said that after the pop-up, leftover items will be dispersed throughout the community.

Objects may later be donated to the Pride Center. The office seeks gender neutral clothes, particularly business casual clothing articles.

The Community Service Office would like any excess items to become part of the move-out sale. Other items will potentially be donated to the greater Bethlehem area.

Students involved in the pop-up said their their long-term goal is to find a permanent place on campus to run the Swap Shop. They are accepting donations at Lehigh’s Eco House as of now, which is located on the corner of Summit Street and Montclair Avenue.

For more information on the Pop-Up Swap Shop or to help fundraising efforts, visit Lehigh’s crowdfunding page.

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