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Planning a Swap Shop during Climate Week 2023

Blog Posts
Circular Economy
Highlights 2022-2023
Student Sustainability Architects

Hello everyone! I’m Arica, a Student Sustainability Architect working on circular economy projects on campus. One of my highlights from this role has been organising a clothes swap with Leeds University Union during Climate Week 2023 in March, and the experience has immensely expanded my horizons. 

Why I wanted to be a Student Sustainability Architect 

As an international student studying MSc Sustainability and Consultancy, I applied to be a Student Sustainability Architect to acquire work experience in an industry I am deeply interested in. Moreover, the friendly working environment alleviates my concerns about adapting to the local work culture and bolsters my confidence in pursuing a UK career after graduation. Organising events at the University also allows me to vividly envision the event's outcomes, providing me with a tremendous sense of achievement.  

My main responsibilities as a Student Sustainability Architect are planning swap shops within our campus and the wider community. While the term ‘swap shop’ may sound intimidating, many have unconsciously practiced it, for example by passing clothing down to younger siblings or relatives. Swaps shops are a circular economy initiative where people drop off their unwanted clothes and pick up a ‘new’ item someone else has donated. Therefore, this promotes a circular economy by encouraging the extension of a product’s lifespan.  

A photo of three girls in coats looking through clothes on a clothes rail in a sports hall.

Planning a swap shop 

Initially, I underestimated the effort required to organise an event on campus, and found it was far more complex than I had anticipated. The planning process involved many factors and parties, including selecting the date, time and venue and managing logistics and communications. We strategically organised it during Climate Week, where a wide range of sustainability-focused activities were held to maximise our reach among the target audience. Given its prime location, choosing the Riley Smith Theatre in the LUU as our venue proved wise, as many students spontaneously dropped by while grabbing lunch or meeting friends.  

The core of a successful swap shop lies in ensuring there is an ample supply of clothing. However, as this is a new initiative, we did not have any stock. Thankfully, we were fortunate that a clothing company generously donated some items, saving us significant time and effort that would have been spent on liaising and collecting donations from potential partners. We heavily relied on the support of our dedicated sustainability volunteers who played crucial roles in setting up the venue, collecting donations, and putting them on the racks. 

Once the event details were confirmed, we moved on to communications planning. We collaborated closely with the communications team within the Sustainability Service, who provided invaluable advice regarding our social media content. 

A photo of three women stood chatting in front of a clothes rail in a sports hall.

During the event, we took the opportunity to explain the purpose and significance of a swap shop to students. It was great to receive positive feedback in person, with many students expressing interest in regular swap shops.  

We have organised another swap shop on the 27 June at the Riley Smith Theatre, in collaboration with Leeds University Union. This is a great way to swap any unwanted clothing you have before the student housing changeover period. If you are interested in joining the volunteer team delivering the event on the day, please fill out this form.

For more information and updates on the swap shop, follow our social channels @UoL_Sus. 

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United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our work on Student Citizenship links to all of the SDGs.

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.