Our second Alta Gracia t-shirt swap, benefitting Planet Aid

We just finished our second Alta Gracia t-shirt swap on campus, swapping gently used t-shirts for brand-new special-ordered Penn State Brandywine Alta Gracia shirts!  All collected and donated shirts are being donated to Planet Aid, a nonprofit organization that collects and recycles used clothing to protect the environment and support global sustainable development.

We are still swapping out some last-minute t-shirts, but we have given out at least 70 Alta Gracia shirts and collected over 120 to donate to Planet Aid!

Fair Trade T-shirt Swap

For those of you that follow our website, you may recall reading about our first t-shirt swap and our recommendations for how to host a t-shirt swap.  Instead of repeating that same information, we are going to add a few updates in this blog post.

  • As with our Go Bananas for Fair Trade event this semester, the students of BA 100 (Introduction to Business) helped out again in running the event.  We have to thank Professor Olear and her students once again for their enthusiasm and assistance!
  • We provided a three-fold brochure with every shirt describing Alta Gracia, Planet Aid, and included our mission and vision statements for the Fair Trade TrailBlazers.  It never hurts to put the information directly into people’s hands!
  • Tweet like crazy during your event!  We were thrilled to have @wearaltagracia and @planetaid both follow us and retweet our images and tweets during the event, as well as other groups.  This made us feel that we were really getting the word out and making an impact beyond our campus event.
  • We were disappointed that, although we sent out campus-wide emails and posted flyers, that the announcement didn’t appear on our campus website or campus Facebook page.  We have to remember to directly ask for the assistance with this publicity from our University Relations Office to get the maximum reach across the campus population.
  • And a friendly warning message… don’t assume that where you get your funding from for the t-shirts the first time will fund you a second time!  For our first t-shirt swap back in Spring 2012, our campus Student Acitivty Fee (SAF) committee funded us and even encouraged us to apply for more funding to get more shirts for a second event.  Fast forward to Fall 2012, a different SAF committee composition of students and faculty – we applied for more funding for more shirts, and we were completely denied funding – unless we became an official student club, which is not what the TrailBlazers are about (see Sarah’s post describing our campus identity).  Soooo… we had already special ordered the shirts through the campus bookstore, and the shirts were on the way, so we needed to find some funds, and fast.  We really need to thank the Laboratory for Civic Engagement for funding the student shirts, and our campus Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska for purchasing 50 shirts specifically for faculty and staff to swap.

If you would like to see more photos from our event, please visit our Flickr site.
Fair Trade T-shirt Swap

Below, some of the shirts on their way to Planet Aid!

Fair Trade T-shirt Swap

Fair Trade Month 2012

Happy Fair Trade Month everyone!  We’re pleased to be able to participate in the 9th annual Fair Trade month.  This is the first time Penn State Brandywine is joining the national voice during October in making ethical purchases to provide a “hand up, not a hand out” for workers across the globe.  Fair Trade USA has some helpful hints with 10 Easy Ways to Celebrate Fair Trade Month, and we have found our own ways to get involved appropriate for our campus community.

First up – we are Going Bananas for Fair Trade!  We are joining the Fair Trade Towns & Universities campaign with what we are sure is going to be a fun event on campus.  We’ll have 400 bananas to give out to 400 people to consume, along with an information table to educate people about where to purchase Fair Trade bananas locally, learn about Fair Trade labels on products, and even take a banana quiz on iPads!  If you are in the area, feel free to swing by our campus (Penn State Brandywine) between 10AM and 1PM on October 9 and 10, and look for us at the Lion Shrine in the middle of campus.  We are going to be environmentally responsible with the 400 banana peels – we will be composting all those peels on campus!  Look for photos during our event on our social media sites.

Next up in Fair Trade Month – our second Fair Trade t-shirt exchange!  This event was so popular in the spring semester, we are back asking for slightly worn t-shirts to be swapped for a Penn State Brandywine Alta Gracia t-shirt (yes, these shirts will say Brandywine on them!).  All collected t-shirts will be donated to Planet Aid.  Stay tuned for dates and times of the event in late October.

At the end of the month, Dr. Laura Guertin and one of our original Fair Trade TrailBlazers, Sarah DeMartino (now at the Penn State University Park campus) will be attending the Fair Trade Campaigns Conference in Chicago.  Look for them to bring back more innovative ideas for education/awareness/advocacy of Fair Trade!



For Sale – rolled Alta Gracia Penn State t-shirts!

Check out what is now available in our campus bookstore (and at the Barnes & Noble bookstores of all Penn State campuses) – Alta Gracia rolled t-shirts!  The blue and gray t-shirts state on the label: “Living Tee, Changing Lives One Shirt At A Time.  A Living Tee guarantees that the valued people making these t-shirts receive wages and benefits that allow them to provide for all of life’s necessities, for the health and well being of themselves and their family.  Proudly made in the Dominican Republic, a Product of Alta Gracia.”
Penn State Alta Gracia t-shirts

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin


Our TrailBlazing t-shirt, thanks to Maggie’s Organics

To unify the initial Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade TrailBlazers in their “look” and support of the movement, I purchased t-shirts for each of the students from Maggie’s Functional Organics and had the shirts embroidered by a local shop in Media, Christina’s Embroidery Design.

Maggie’s Organics is known for its sustainable and ethical apparel, where all of their products are made with certified organic cotton or wool.  All of their unisex t-shirts (which we ordered) are Certified Fair Labor and Fair Trade Certified.  We went for the moss-colored shirt, with blue-and-white stitching (after all, we are Penn State).

We have been surprised at how popular these shirts are.  Many people have told us they want one of their own.  Alas, these are one-of-a-kind customized shirts for the one-of-a-kind group of TrailBlazers.  But we certainly take advantage of the opportunity to tell people about Maggie’s Organics and the opportunity to purchase Fair Trade clothing.  We encourage everyone to check out their website for fun and feel-good clothing!
Maggie's Organics and our TrailBlazing t-shirt

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

T-Shirt swap was a huge success!

The Penn State Brandywine first Fair Trade T-Shirt Exchange was a huge success. We exchanged 72 t-shirts and received 237 and counting in return! This t-shirt swap could not have been done without all the excellent students in our class, our hard working teacher, and all the staff and faculty around campus.

Fair Trade T-shirt Exchange - Day 2

The Penn State Fair Trade t-shirts were purchased from Alta Gracia, which is a fair trade company located in the Dominican Republic, with a grant from the Student Allocations Fee Committee. All the students in the class and our professor Dr. G did a wonderful job preparing for our t-shirt swap. We put together brochures, a list of our URLs for our social networks, and posters to promote Fair Trade and our t-shirt swap. For the swap the rules were simple. You could bring in any number of t-shirts as long as they were slightly used and wearable, and in exchange the swapper gets one Penn State Fair Trade t-shirt. The swap was held on Wednesday and Thursday of this past week and was held indoors and outdoors. On Wednesday our turnout was fairly small because most of the students and staff were not aware that the swap was going on, despite the flyers and emails. A lot of students were excited about the swap when they saw it and told us that they would be back on Thursday with a t-shirt. On Thursday the swap skyrocketed through the roof in popularity. Students and staff did a great job of contributing.

This swap made our movement even more interesting then ever. We had fun with this swap but also did a great job of getting the word out to the students and staff. On behalf of our ENVST400W class we would like to thank everyone that made this possible and we would also like to throw a special thank you to Alta Gracia and Joe Buskirk from our Penn State Brandywine bookstore, donating 37 t-shirts from the bookstore himself, for making this swap a huge success.

Contributed by Joe Sweeny

How to host a Fair Trade t-shirt swap!

The Fair Trade t-shirt exchange at Penn State Brandywine was a huge success! During our journey toward becoming a Fair Trade University, we have worked toward raising awareness of the Fair Trade movement and our efforts on campus. As part of the process, we’ve committed to hosting several Fair Trade events on campus each semester. Our first big event was hosting Amanda White from Divine Chocolate (read more about it here), and our second event was Wednesday and Thursday’s Fair Trade T-shirt exchange. We hope that our experience can help other campuses learn how to best host a Fair Trade T-shirt Swap!

Fair Trade T-shirt Exchange - Day 1

Aimee Ralph, showing some Penn State pride! (photo via Fair Trade at Penn State Brandywine)

Our t-shirt swap was a two-day event where students could bring in a gently used t-shirt to exchange for a brand new, Fair Trade, Penn State t-shirt from Alta Gracia Apparel. Our 72 Fair Trade tees quickly disappeared, and we received 237 tees for charity in exchange! All of the donated tees were given to local Planet Aid drop boxes. We chose Planet Aid because we felt that their mission of global sustainability and recycling clothing complements the missions of the Fair Trade movement.

Here are a few of the important lessons we learned about hosting a t-shirt swap:

  1. Get the word out! Be sure to effectively use your campus’s social media and other forms of making announcements to make sure that everyone knows about the event. Everyone wants a free t-shirt (which is a huge draw for spreading the Fair Trade message), but on our campus, not everyone knew about the swap. If we had spread the word a bit better, we could have made a bigger impact.
  2. Set your date early, hold the event later. Setting the date early in the semester will help your committee spread the word, so that a t-shirt swap later in the semester will be successful.
  3. Apply for funding. You might be surprised at the funds your school will provide for you. We not only got our 72 t-shirts donated (with the help of our campus’s student activity fee), but we also got our student government association to provide funding for us for future activities on campus.
  4. Students first! If you are doing a two-day event, dedicate the first day to students only. On the second day, set aside the first half of your event for students and then give staff and faculty the opportunity to swap for a tee. Unfortunately, we ran out so quickly that some students who wanted to participate didn’t get a chance to snag a Fair Trade tee!
  5. Have an elevator speech & Fair Trade literature. Some students were confused as to why we were collecting old t-shirts to donate to charity when we had a slew snazzy new shirts to give out for free. “Why don’t you just donate those?” one student asked us. We realized that although we had a brochure that explained why we were doing the swap, and our posters all said something about Fair Trade, the cause of the event was lost on a lot of people. Be prepared with a 30 seconds-or-less “elevator speech” for the students who want to get their hands on free swag. Why are you doing this swap? What is Fair Trade? What are you doing on campus to promote the movement? In addition to the brochure, we handed out a half-sheet of paper that included links to our social media outlets and petition on change.org.

Fair Trade T-shirt Exchange - Day 1
Joe gives a Fair Trade tee to Director of Student Affairs, Dr. Matthew Shupp, while Sarah gets footage of the TrailBlazers in action (via Fair Trade at Penn State Brandywine)

Fair Trade T-shirt Exchange - Day 2 Bryan and Sara, packing up the donated tees… all 237 of them! (via Fair Trade at Penn State Brandywine)

Fair Trade T-shirt Exchange - Day 2

Sara talks to Matthew Bodek, Instructional Design Specialist on campus (via Fair Trade at Penn State Brandywine)

Fair Trade T-shirt Exchange - Day 2

The whole lot! Thanks PSU Brandywine, for your support! (via Fair Trade at Penn State Brandywine)

With a campus of about 1600 students, we were able to give away 72 t-shirts without a problem. For campuses with a larger student body, make sure you order enough tees! This is an event that will definitely bring success to your movement on campus.

Contributed by Sara Neville.