Going Back to School in Green, DIY Style

Craft & Design Energy & Sustainability

FCC.jpgWhen Austin clothing designer, Kathie Sever, and writer, Bernadette Noll, learned about Swap-O-Rama-Rama at last year’s Maker Faire, they were inspired. Not only did they see the environmental benefit of upcycling unwanted clothing, but they also appreciated the opportunity to get creative and make something their own. When they took that inspiration home to their families, they realized that a clothing swap didn’t have to be aimed just at adults. With schools heading back in session over the next month, the opportunity to extend their inspiration to other families was ripe.
“The push for Back to School shopping is so relentless in our society,” Noll says. “We decided this would be the perfect time to do a swap.”
Sever and Noll head up the Future Craft Collective in Austin, an initiative based on inspiring children to get crafty, to create beauty, while simultaneously teaching them ways of minimizing our impact on the earth. They are hosting the first-ever Don’t Shop; Swap, a clothes swap and clothing reconstruction event geared for kids going back to school. The event’s timing, during Texas’ tax-free shopping weekend where shoppers save around $8 for every $100 they spend, is no coincidence.
“We are hoping to alleviate the pressure on families to spend money they might not have and to buy things they don’t need or want,” Sever says. “There is definitely pressure applied to consume, to over extend, and it is our hope that we can help people realize that it’s way more fun and creative to share what is already out there and for each person to define their own style – thereby making the idea of hand-me-downs and clothes swapping ‘cool’ in the eyes of the kids. And ‘green’ in the eyes of our planet.”
Similar to the Swap-O-Rama format, the Don’t Shop; Swap event will allow participants to donate clothes, then pull from the donated items and – working with sewing machines and crafty volunteers – reconstruct their finds into “new” clothes for back to school. The response they have gotten from parents, teachers and school administrators has been nothing less than incredible, Noll says.
“I think Austin has a lot of creative and environmentally minded people – people who are now having children of their own,” Noll says. “They want their kids to know how to be makers, to be creative thinkers, and to think of doing things in a ‘green’ way. The idea of reduce, reuse, recycle is becoming more and more crucial and for this next generation especially, just a way of life.”
WHAT: Don’t Shop; Swap – Clothes swap on Tax free shopping day
WHEN: Saturday,August 16th. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
WHO: This event is being sponsored by the Future Craft Collective and The Zilker Green Committee
WHERE: Zilker Elementary School Gymnasium 1900 Bluebonnet Lane, Austin, TX 78704
WHY: Because it’s time for back to school shopping but we’d rather swap than shop. We can make a difference by utilizing what’s already out there and minimize our impact on our already overtaxed planet.
Those who attend can bring their clothes which will then be sorted into various piles of gender and size and variety. In the style of Swap-O-Rama-Rama, seen at last year’s Maker Faire, we will have sewing machines lined up operated by seamstresses from the community who can help people alter and reconstruct the clothes they find in the piles.
Want to help? If you are a seamstress, or a sorter, or a thrifty soul, or know someone who is and you are available on Friday evening to help set up or on Saturday to help sort, sew or sift, please email me, Bernadette Noll nollanderson [at] sbcglobal [dot] net or call Kathie Sever at 512-627-0652
Want to attend? Bring a bag of clothes (clean and unripped please) or just a single garment to add to the pile.  
Clothes may be dropped off on Friday evening between 6 and 7 p.m. or on Saturday morning starting at 9:30. The doors will officially open for swapping at 10:00 a.m.

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