About the Swap It Toolkit

During Waste Reduction Week 2017, Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) hosted a Pop-Up Clothing Swap in Nathan Phillips Square, in partnership with the City of Toronto. The event was a success, diverting almost 300 kg of textiles from disposal.

Building on the successes of the Pop-Up Clothing Swap, RCO developed the Swap It Toolkit, a  multi-language and customizable package of resources that includes everything you need to organize a successful swap event in your community, building, or workplace. We hope that through swap events hosted from the Toolkit communities are inspired to think about their clothing footprint by extending the life of products and reduce waste.

Who Should Use This Toolkit?

Swap events can be organized by anyone! Whether your swap will be just a small gathering in your apartment building or a large event in a community centre, any person or group is encouraged to use this step-by-step guide to assist with planning their swap event.

  • Multi-residential buildings
  • Individuals
  • Municipalities
  • Community groups
  • Schools
  • Businesses
  • Office green teams

How to Use This Toolkit

The Swap It Toolkit provides you with step-by-step instructions for organizing your swap event. To download the toolkit and its resources follow these steps:

  • Visit SwapItToolkit.ca/register and tell us a bit about who you are and when your swap event will be.
  • Once you register you will be directed to all the materials, where you can choose to download the Toolkit in full or each resource individually. Our step-by step guide will also walk you through the entire process, and our customizable resources will make planning and promoting your event a breeze.
  • After you set up and host your swap event submit your results online. There will be draws with the chance to win exciting prizes for swaps that submit results within 30 days of the event! Stay tuned for more details on this contest.

Textiles Waste: The Issue

The average person throws away 37 kilograms of textiles each year, and 95 per cent of those clothes can be reused or recycled. Globally, textiles waste has increased dramatically due to the rise in clothing consumption and production.

We are buying more clothes, wearing them a few times, and discarding them without giving them a chance at a second life. It takes 2,650 litres of water to produce just one cotton t-shirt, a frightening number when you realize the average Canadian buys 70 new items of clothing every year!

What We Can Do

Everyone has clothing and other items at home that aren’t getting the love and attention they deserve. Swap events are a fun way for people to bring gently used clothing or small household items and swap them for ‘new’ to them items. Swaps are also a great opportunity to have fun, get creative, engage with your neighbours, and reduce waste.

What is the difference between swap and donation?

Swap events focus on providing you an opportunity to swap your gently used clothing or item in good condition for someone else’s material that can be reused. When you donate your material to charity, you can include all kinds of material, including damaged or not so gently used clothing, and even single shoes. Swap events focus on items that can still be worn or used.

Advancing the Circular Economy

Swapping is just one way we can contribute to advancing a circular economy. Swapping extends product and textile lifecycles, and diverts them from disposal. These factors reduce the impacts associated with energy, land, and water used to make new items.  

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines a circular economy as looking beyond the historical take-make-waste extractive industrial model. A circular economy aims to redefine growth and  focus on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital.

There are many ways we can contribute to advancing the circular economy:

  • Purchase smartly designed products meant to be reused, refurbished, and dismantled
  • Embrace access over ownership: use sharing programs such as bike & auto shares, libraries, video/music streaming services, clothing rentals
  • Support companies that offer take-back of products after use.
  • Purchase products that use recycled material
  • Repair products instead of buying new, when possible
  • Buy refurbished products
  • Swap and share clothing and other materials within your community


Recycling Council of Ontario

Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) is a not-for-profit membership-based organization committed to minimizing society’s impact on the environment by eliminating waste. RCO’s mission is to inform and educate all members of society about the avoidance of waste, efficient use of resources, and the benefits and/or consequences of these activities.

Since 1978 our commitment to Reduce, Reuse, Recycling has driven our actions, and is the bedrock of our efforts to help facilitate the efficient use of resources and transition the economy from a linear to circular model where post-consumed materials are integrated back into use and production cycles. We also have a long history of designing and executing high profile school campaigns and public events that showcase the 3Rs into learning opportunities and action.

Waste Reduction Week in Canada

The Swap It Toolkit launches during Waste Reduction Week in Canada 2019 (October 21 – 27) and is a resource of the national program.

Waste Reduction Week in Canada is a national campaign that runs the third week in October every year and engages Canadians by providing information and ideas to reduce waste in all facets of daily living.

LiveGreen Toronto Waste Reduction Community Grants

This project is supported by the City of Toronto through its Waste Reduction Community Grants.

The grants provide funding for innovative community-based projects that reduce residential waste and increase participation in the City’s waste diversion programs.