Before I started SwapIt, before I was a busy mom, I was an ambitious twenty-something climbing the career ladder of a large social service non-profit in New York City.
In those days, I never cared much about what I wore, but as my responsibilities increased and involved more and more public speaking obligations and interactions with high-level donors, elected officials, and volunteers, I found myself struggling to look put together.
I decided I needed to build a wardrobe that was polished yet affordable on my modest salary.
Meanwhile, my organization selected me to complete a prestigious greening fellowship. I was stunned to learn that discarded clothing is one of the biggest contributors to landfill waste: The average American throws away 70 pounds of textile waste each year, and only 15% of used clothing in the U.S. gets donated or recycled. The rest goes into landfills, giving textiles one of the worst recycling rates of any reusable material.
It was hard to reconcile my need for affordable and professional looking clothes with this new knowledge of how the clothing industry impacts the environment so negatively.