Hubbub Street Stores Tackle Textile Waste with Clothes Swapping Events

As every parent knows, babies and young children outgrow their clothes incredibly quickly – sometimes before they’ve even had the chance to wear everything in their wardrobe. What happens to these outgrown, but often still wearable clothes? We discovered that UK parents are leaving 183 million items of outgrown baby clothing tucked away and unused at home. That’s enough to provide over 250 items for every baby born in the UK each year!

Clothes swapping events

At the same time 300,000 tonnes of textiles are sent to landfill every year in the UK, with a third of parents telling us they’ve thrown kids’ clothing in the bin because they didn’t know what else to do with them.

At Hubbub our mission is to inspire people to live greener lifestyles, so we got to thinking about how we could help reduce clothing waste whilst making parents’ lives a little easier. And so we created Street Store: clothes swapping events that allow parents to trade in outgrown garments for good quality, preloved childrenswear – for free.

High-quality pre-loved clothes

Street Store is a really simple concept. A typical event will have a clothes rail allowing people to bring along their high-quality pre-loved clothes, hang them up and take something else in return. All swaps are based on trust. Street Store is also a place for sharing tips on how to care for clothing, so that favourite pieces can be enjoyed for longer.

We’ve been trialling Street Store across several locations and it’s been a great success. One event in the Walthamstow Toy Library saw 64 people swapping or donating over 48kg of clothing. The north London playgroups and holiday clubs that have tried it also loved how the event created a buzz and brought people together.

Katie, a mum who lives in Walthamstow, came along to an event to pick up some clothes for her daughter Poppy. She told Hubbub: ‘I think the Street Store is a really great idea, it was a great chance to have a clear out of her wardrobe and bring in some of the things that don’t fit her anymore and take home something new!’

Now we know it works, we’re encouraging community groups, businesses, schools and charities across London and the UK to run their own Street Store events to help benefit local communities and prevent clothes going to waste.

Download the how-to guide

We’ve produced a simple how-to guide, downloadable at the Hubbub website here, containing all the information and materials needed to set up a Street Store event. The guide includes posters and tags to help organise clothes along with social media ideas to help you promote your event. No experience is needed to run an event and the toolkit is designed to be as flexible and easy to use as possible.

Your Street Store could be a one-off event or a longer-term fixture and we find they work best in locations where members of the public regularly meet up in the community. Think schools, libraries, cafés, community spaces and local businesses. Organisers can choose whether to run a general event for the whole community (it doesn’t have to be just for kids’ clothing) or a swap for a specific kind of clothing such as Halloween costumes or Christmas-themed clothing. With summer just around the corner perhaps you could run one to swap children’s holiday clothes?

Street Store is funded by North London Waste Authority (NLWA) under the Waste Prevention Community Fund and we’re really grateful for their support. If I’ve inspired you to hold a Street Store event please do check out our website and the guide. If you have any questions you can get in touch with us at hello@hubbub.org.uk. If you do run an event, we’d love to hear how you got on!

By Heather Poore, Creative Director at Hubbub

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