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Looks Better on You Clothing Swap

Grand Rapids Public Library
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Problem Statement

The Grand Rapids Public Library has been inventing creative and timely Earth Week programming for several years. Recognizing that the recession has created many economic barriers in our community, we wanted to do more than help people learn to use less resources, but also let them share some of their resources amongst themselves, improving the collective lives of all.


During Earth Week 2010 we opened our doors to a clothing swap called “Looks Better on You!” The weeks prior to the swap we asked Staff to help us seed the swap by clearing out their closets. We found that most staff took it upon themselves to clean out and organize all the closet spaces, simplifying their homes, and providing the clothing swap with more than enough items to share with our community. We then set aside a whole day where anyone could come and not only donate items to others (which was not required), but take anything they wanted. We found that most people brought at least a bag with them and then spent time perusing the vast collection in front of them.


We had 640 people from all walks of life participate in the clothing swap and the response was overwhelming. People left what they no longer had use for and took only what they needed. We heard comments like “It was like being in Wonderland! I brought all stuff I didn’t need and have all things I can use”, “It helps us all move out the old things and find new stuff in a beautiful way – moneyless”, ”Cleaned things out of my closet and it goes to people in need”, “I was in real need of clothing and this helped me out. Thank you.”

Staff also jumped at the opportunity to volunteer for this event. They spent their time sorting out the bags of donated items onto several tables that filled our spacious auditorium.