‘Cathays Clothes Swap’: Meet the Cardiff student fighting against fast fashion 

Guilt-free fashion on your doorstep

We are constantly looking for new ways to be sustainable and reduce our impact on the planet. We’ve moved to metal straws, banned single-use plastics, and started to think more about where the products we buy actually come from. One Cardiff University student set out to make it easy for students to shop sustainably, with her Facebook fashion idea.

Martha Garstang started Cathays Clothes Swap, a Facebook page where students can buy second-hand clothes, or swap them with something they fancy from another person’s wardrobe. We spoke to Martha about the page, and here’s what she had to say…

It was originally for ballgowns and suits

Initially, it was set up so people could could buy clothes for balls and events, as these can be expensive, but the pandemic has caused many socials to be postponed or cancelled.

Adapting to the unprecedented circumstances, the page has changed slightly with the aim to buy, sell and swap any unwanted clothes with people living in the local area, rather than throw them away or donate to over-flooded charity shops. Anyone can join the page, and they are free to upload items they’re selling or searching for.

Credit: Cathays Clothes Swap on Facebook

Slow fashion is more sustainable

With over 600 followers in the group, increased awareness of fast fashion’s negative impact on the environment is clearly evident. Martha told The Cardiff Tab that it’s important “we all find alternative ways to shop” because “buying locally and second-hand is more sustainable.”

Credit: Cathays Clothes Swap on Facebook

In a time when independent shops and the high-street are suffering due to repeated closures as a result of COVID-19, the page also promotes new small businesses, which many of the members have gone to for birthday and Christmas presents.

Buying local is environmentally friendly

When asked about the benefits of Cathays Clothes Swap compared to buying from other second-hand marketplaces such as eBay or Depop, Martha told The Cardiff Tab: “I love apps like Depop but buying locally off people is not only helping out others but likely to eliminate any emissions which will have been accounted for in transit when something is posted and is likely to reduce any plastic packaging that will have been used for parcels!”

It’s true – you’re able to save on postage costs by delivering or collecting the item with safe COVID precautions in place. Also, there are no commission or seller’s fees, saving you more money than if you were to shop elsewhere and making it cheaper than selling on other sites.

Cathays Clothes Swap is cheap and environmentally-cheerful

Most of the clothes sold on Cathays Clothes Swap are under £10, with jumpers being sold for just £2.

Credit: Cathays Clothes Swap on Facebook

If members can’t find anything they fancy, they can simply post on the page letting sellers know what they’re looking for, and other members will contact them.

A third year student told The Cardiff Tab: “I try to avoid fast fashion as much as I can”.

They continued: “having opportunities to buy second hand clothes, and to participate in clothes swaps are great opportunities for those who wish to avoid fast fashion in an affordable and sustainable way”.

Black Friday sales make us question the ethics and environmental cost of clothing

The effects of fast-fashion were made particularly evident when some online retailers offered up to 99% off and reduced clothing items to less than a £1 across the Black Friday weekend. It begs the question how such bargains can be ethical for both the environment, and the people that make the garments.

This is why Martha has signed a pledge to wear a pre-loved outfit on the 25th December and encourages others to do so too.

If you do wear a pre-loved outfit, don’t forget to #xmaspreloved on Instagram. Credit: Martha Garstang on Facebook

Cathays Clothes Swap is just one of the many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint, support people in your local community, all whilst getting some new(ish) garms. You can visit the Cathays Clothes Swap page here and follow @theconscious_closet on Instagram.

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