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'Swopped' is the sustainable way to shop

Words by Smiley Team

For many, retail therapy is an easy fix when you’re feeling low. But for Lucy Saville, the founder of online swap shop Swopped, it makes her feel even worse.

Gone are the days when she’d binge-buy clothes to make herself feel better. “I was highly concerned about what my need to buy new clothes was actually doing to the planet, my mental health and my wallet,” she says.

But when she looked for an ethical and sustainable alternative, she couldn’t find anything as easy and efficient as online shopping. So she decided to launch something herself. Introducing: Swopped. 

“Swopped enables women to get new use out of their old clothes in sustainable and eco-friendly ways,” she explains. “You swap your beautiful but unwanted clothing that is filled with so many experiences, for someone else’s, giving it new life and gaining something special in return.” 

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How does it work?

First, you need to register for a subscription, which starts at £6.49 a month. Then, you select items you want to swap, upload photos, and deliver them to Swopped to send out. In return, you receive credits to your account which you can spend on other clothes on the site.

All their packaging, including the stickers, is compostable and reusable. Swappers are encouraged to group all their swaps over a few weeks to reduce the number of deliveries, cutting back on emissions from transport. 

Unlike many high street stores, this system doesn’t outsource production to other countries, where low-paid workers often endure poor working conditions – something Lucy is particularly opposed to. “I find it hard to digest how the women who make clothes are treated,” she says. “When we think about how women’s empowerment is used to promote clothing, actually it’s only really empowering the women who buy their clothes. What about other women who make the clothes?”

Another issue she hopes to tackle through Swopped is greenwashing. “A lot of us are becoming more mindful consumers," she says. "So when we see something that says it’s recycled or from a conscious range, we think, ‘Maybe I'm making a better decision here.’

"Fashion companies pump so much money into sustainable messages, but really, unfortunately, the big fast fashion players can never be sustainable.”

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Moving fashion-forward

Fast fashion is a pertinent issue for Lucy to confront. The textiles and garment industry accounts for around 20% of global water wastage and 10& of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, nearly 90% of the fibres used to produce clothing are incinerated or end up as landfill, according to the World Bank

Initiatives like Swopped offer a more environmentally-friendly solution, she explains, for which clothing isn’t transported around the world but remains local. Instead of mass-producing new goods made from polymer-dense materials, it keeps existing clothing in circulation for as long as possible.

Looking to the future, Lucy hopes more shoppers will switch to swapping to reduce their carbon footprint in a way that’s accessible to all no matter their budget. 

“Sustainable fashion is often an expensive privilege,” she says. “But Swopped is available for everyone of all sizes and with any budget. I just want to make Swopped available for everyone.” 

Find out more about Swopped.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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