We held our first ever Swap Shop on Friday and this is what happened

As part of sustainability month on image.ie, we hosted a special in-house event that merges our commitment to style with our commitment to waste reduction. As well as reducing our use of plastic this month, using ethical cleansing products and having plastic-free periods, we wanted to commit to making better, more environmentally-conscious fashion decisions. And with that came the idea of hosting our own clothing Swap Shop.

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We talk about sustainability a lot here at image.ie and we're self-confessed advocates. But sometimes it's far easier to run to our favourite high-street haunt after work and pick up a new tee instead of investing in one that is made using sustainable materials and ethically produced. Our Swap Shop was a chance to exchange pre-loved garb for fabulous pieces in need of  a new home. The best bit? There's no waste. If your office is ready for the challenge, here's how to host a swap shop of your own...

Gauge interest amongst your colleagues

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Start the conversation at work to see if there's interest in hosting an in-office event and post a sign-up sheet in your office's communal area. It's a really great way to get to know each other in a relaxed environment, too. And remember, swap shops aren't limited to female offices only, so encourage your male colleagues to take part as well.

Set some ground rules

Swap shops are meant to be a fun excuse to finish early on Friday, but in order for them to run smoothly, there are a few rules to consider beforehand: limit the number of items per person (see below) and ask that clothes, shoes and accessories are brought in clean, presentable condition.

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Decide on a definite number of items to bring

We suggest capping it at four or five pieces per person. That way, everyone is guaranteed to leave with something new and there won't be a huge pile of leftover clothes. If there are excess clothes at the end of the swap, bag them up and donate them to charity.

Organise logistics

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For the swap to be fair and fun, we gave everyone a number of golden IMAGE Swap Shop tickets, which could be exchanged for any other item. Tickets were given depending on how many items a person brought, i.e. if they bought four items, they got four tickets to swap for new items. We assembled a solid crew to help gather clothes, erect rails, hang the garb and display it so that it looked a treat when the time came to pounce. We allowed everyone to have a walk-through of the room to get a peek of their new favourite shirt or dress, and when everyone was ready, they lined up outside (this might not be possible if your office is on the fourth floor!) before charging for their prize. This was repeated until all the clothes had been swapped and we had 20-something happy shoppers.

Prosecco and snacks

We hosted our Swap Shop on a Friday for a reason: it was a great way to unwind after a busy week and get ready for the weekend ahead. And it encouraged more people to take part, too. It must be something to do with the sound of a cork popping...

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And charity

Most clothing swaps charge a small entry fee which goes towards costs and staff. Instead, we asked everyone to donate what they could on the day to our charity partner of the year, The Longford Women's Link.

It's scary to think that it takes about 2,700 litres of water to make just one T-shirt. And when was the last time you bought a piece of clothing that was made from biodegradable materials, used less water, wasn't made on the back of underpaid labour, or didn't use harmful chemicals? It's true, we're witnessing a radical shift in the way our clothes are produced and brands and customers are more aware than ever of the damaging effects of fast fashion. Swapping clothes is just one tiny way to reduce our carbon footprint and it leaves way better feels than running to the high-street. Let us know if you're organising your own office or at-home swap-a-thon!

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