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Varndean in Clothes Swap Collaboration for Our City, Our World

October 31st 2023

What better way to update your wardrobe for free, whilst taking climate change action, than with a clothes swap?

Thrifting is far from a new idea but its popularity seems to be growing, with several apps now making it even easier to find unique items that won't cost the earth.

In line with our climate change strategy Varndean School is delighted to have been part of a very successful collaboration with Our City, Our WorldSew Fabulous* and students and staff from Dorothy Stringer School.  

Speaking about a new sustainability initiative for Brighton & Hove schools, Katie Eberstein from Our City, Our World, commented:

'The Our City, Our World programme aims to ensure sustainability is integrated with the curriculum and running of Brighton & Hove schools to empower children and young people to be change makers in their schools, families and communities.

Clothes Swap Oct 23 2

In partnership with Sew Fabulous, a local organisation promoting sustainable fashion we organised a clothes swap for Varndean and Dorothy Stringer students, held at Varndean School during Sustainable Fashion Week. 

The event provided a fun and affordable way for students to revamp their wardrobe and avoid addition carbon emissions. As a result of the event, 274 items were donated and 144 items rehomed, accounting for a saving of around 420kg C02 and significant water.

Clothes atacama

Did you know?

  • The fashion industry produces around 10% of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights together
  • Large quantities of water are used in textile production – eg over 7.5 thousand litres of water are need to make one pair of jeans
  • On average, clothes are only worn 7 times before being discarded
  • There are currently enough clothes on the planet right now to clothe the next 7 generations
  • Most textile waste goes to landfill – less than 1% of clothes are recycled

With teenagers being the largest consumers of fast fashion, we wanted to provide a simple model for schools to reduce the impact of clothing. 

We’ll soon be providing a guide for other schools to run their own clothes swap and hope this initiative grows in more schools across the city.'

A team of Varndean Eco Reps and Tim Speller, Lead Teacher for Climate Change Strategy, worked on making the event successful, promoting it in school and helping to run the logistics on the day along with Katie and Sew Fabulous.

Clothes swap 6.10.23

Year 8 student Seren said:

'In the morning, we waited at the bike shed as people came flooding in with donations, and labelled their bags so that they could collect tokens later. Then, after lunch, we worked on looking through donations, noting each clothing item down to calculate the overall carbon savings, as well as valuing them. We then hung all the clothes up and made posters, getting the hall ready for when everyone came. When everyone arrived, we crossed off their name on our list and gave them the correct amount of tokens, so they could find new pieces of clothing. Both Varndean and Stringer students attended, and when people left, there was an out desk so we could note down what they had bought with their tokens.'

The clothes swap was extremely successful, and any clothes left over were donated to refugee families in Brighton, so that nothing went to waste. We look forward to the next Varndean clothes swap! 

We are thrilled to be a part of this work which not only contributes to our school's climate change strategy, but also brings student leadership opportunities and notable financial benefits for our families. We look forward to future collaborations and are grateful to everyone involved. 

This feature was also picked up by Brighton & Hove News. You can read their report here:

Brighton & Hove News - Students Swap Clothes to Highlight Sustainable Fashion

* Sew Fabulous is a not for profit sustainable community textiles studio based in Brighton Open Market. They design and deliver classes, courses, workshops and events. 

In 2023 Sew Fabulous produced the first Brighton Sustainable Fashion Week alongside partners Brighton Peace and Environment Centre.


Photo credits:

Sophie W, Year 11

Sew Fabulous