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0ren Katz Jesse Koehler Jaclyn Tarica DJ Nogalski Samantha Ganz
Swashion Mission Statement
We are a Madison community platform designed for users to engage in reducing the issue of hyper-consumption by clothing exchanges with other people from the community. Swashion is a revolutionary concept for our eco-conscious and clothing-loving consumers who are looking to exchange or donate clothing and accessories they no longer need or wear, for FREE! We hope to continue the trend of collaborative consumption, while allowing our users to keep their wardrobes stylish and fresh. But it’s more than just exchanging clothes... we will connect members through social media and other new communication technologies that will make the process of swapping clothes fun and easy. Swashion makes swapping the new shopping.
Research Planning & Design Execution Evaluation
History of Hyper-consumption
The history of consumer culture in America inherently explains the serious issue of hyperconsumption. Following the post-WWII economic boom, the surplus of goods led to “The Golden Age of Capitalism.” Increased consumerism and economic materialism became societal norms. Instant gratification stemming from consumer culture and individualistic mindsets increasingly motivated pruchase decisions overtime. The availability of mass produced goods through manufacturing processes and shopping online more recently has put Americans on a hedonistic treadmill of consumption. Consumers are always looking toward to their next purchase, expanding their wish-list of products everyday. From a historical perspective, the number of possessions each individual America needs to simply make it through the day has also increased dramatically over the past 100 years.
Impacts of Hyper-consumption
Approximately 80 percent of everything we buy ends up in a landfill. Shop-until-you drop mentalities may support a capitalist economy, but the excessive consumer culture that defines industrialized nations negatively impacts the environment. The more we consume, the more we have to produce, ultimately generating massive amounts of waste. According to the Clean Air Council’s website, the average person in the United States creates 4.39 pounds of trash daily, which when added together, is enough to fill 63,000 garbage trucks every day. What is more, Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff Project” indicates the average American spends 3-4 times as many hours shopping as their European counterpart. The United States currently constitutes five percent of the World’s population, but consumes over 30 percent of the resources, according to the World Bank Development Indicators. As emerging world powers like China and India continue industrializing, there simply won’t be enough resources to go around.
“The average American spends 3-4 times as many hours shopping as their European counterpart.”
Today, Western culture has a fixation with individualism—a deeply rooted cultural way of life that is now perpetuated by persuasive marketing. Our cultural heritage tells us that you need to go out there and do things for yourself. Advertising encourages this way of life. Marketers can make consumers feel inadequate, ultimately evoking a desire to buy new products as a panacea to their problems. The repetition of these messages overtime affects our perceptions of normalcy.
Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2009 data, consumers diversify their spending across various market segments, which ultimately drives to the economy as the noted before. Of this spending, the average consumer spends $1,881 or 3.8% of their annual expenditures on apparel.
styles, 43 percent of respondents in a survey about their consumption habits indicated they spend between $500-$2000 on clothes every year. What is more, 35 percent of respondents bought new clothes not because they needed them; rather, they made new purchases on impulse or wanted to keep up with the latest fashion trends. Overall, the Madison community is conscious about the fact that their actions impact the environment. The majority of respondents, however, were unaware that hyper-consumption is a serious environmental issue - an issue that is virtually unsustainable. Members of the Madison community consistently rank above average in apparel consumption. “Generation Y spending priorities are related to education, personal appearance and fun,” and their average spending index for apparel is 129. Madison’s Generation X’s index is 133 for apparel with Young Boomers indicating a similar spending index.
Hyper-consumption and spending can contribute to severe debt. According to our research, a significant number of people spend the majority of their money on clothing, ending up in severe debt as a result.. The consumer spending patterns of MilwaukeeRacine area indicate that Wisconsin consumers average a higher spending rate on apparel at 4.6 percent or $1,880 yearly. The national average is 3.8 percent. Nationally, household debt has exploded in recent years leading up to an average household debt of 123% of disposable personal income. The chart below follows the trend with all numbers listed in billions.
Madison Combats Hyper-consumption
A lot of Madison-area resale shops have been established over the past couple of years. There has been an increasing emphasis on the importance of second-hand clothing as an eco-friendly alternative to buying new from consumers and producers alike. This trend positively impacts the environment because it reduces waste waste generated by manufacturing new clothing, transporting goods and producing packaging. Stores like Plato’s Closet and Rethreads in Madison, Wis. allow you to bring in gently used clothing for cash or trade. The emphasis on sharing may be in reaction to people always wanting to buy new when used is sufficient.
In Madison, Wis., community members are aware of their consumption habits and while most individuals try to live eco-friendly life-
Federal, state, and local governments are involved in this issue through their ability to set taxes, subsidize certain products, and write policies on which we plan to effect change. Also, the local government--the city of Madison and Dane County in particular--leads recycling efforts for the community so it is inherently interested in new and innovated ways to recycle and conserve. One example of their interest in recycling can be seen in the recent adoption of the E-cycle program (detailed below).
alternatives. In Wisconsin the 5.5% sales tax applies to all retail products, even those sold at resale shops like Good Will and Rethreads. Policy changes directed at creating incentives for the purchase of environmentally friendly clothing through lower taxes and “punishments” for buying non-environmentally friendly clothing through higher taxes (or ineligibility for the discount) would help combat hyper-consumption. In Wisconsin, there are no tax breaks or tax incentives for manufacturers who consider the environmental consequences of their economic activities. Offering tax breaks to companies who commit to lean manufacturing processes, businesses producing ecofriendly clothing or retailers distributing goods with minimal environmental impact will help the environment.
“Hyper-consumption is a serious environmental issue - an issue that is virtually unsustainable.”
Government, Consumption & the Environment
The regulation of credit cards, sales taxes, tax incentives and tax breaks all affect consumer spending and business operations. Credit cards drive hyper-consumption by encouraging consumers to spend money they don’t have. Purchasing on credit often results in excessive consumption that impacts the environment and contributes to debt. Currently, there are no policies rewarding consumers who purchase on credit for buying environmentally friendly products that minimally impact the environment. Sales taxes serve as a dis-incentivize clothing purchases. Increasing the sales tax on non-environmentally friendly clothing will discourage consumers from buying those goods while decreasing the sales tax on ecofriendly products will make them appealing
Current Efforts Advocating Change
CC describes the movement from the 20th century hyper-consumption lifestyle to the 21st century collaborative consumption lifestyle; a lifestyle made up of traditional sharing, lending and swapping necessities. The CC group effectively mobilizes their members by providing insightful tutorial videos about
this important movement, sharing events for members to attend, providing guest lecturers to hear speak, blogging to share opinions and new ideas and educating members on all other organizations that support the CC movement.
consin, a recycling law that establishes a statewide program to collect and recycle electronics. In September 2010 the law also banned certain electronics from Wisconsin landfills and incinerators. This legislation advances Wisconsin’s ability to be more environmentally friendly and reduces the states carbon footprint to an extent. The law specifically addresses and affects: Consumers Manufacturers Collectors Recyclers Retailers Governments Many other legislative agendas emphasize the importance of lowering taxes. Lowering taxes as an incentive for environmentally friendly clothing is not explicit on any of these agendas, but increasing awareness about the effectiveness of these changes will evoke change. The Madison Environmental Group and Fregans are movements gaining momentum in Wisconsin. Both coalitions emphasize the importance of scaling-back consumption in order to preserve the environment.
National Recycling Coalition
The NRC is a non-profit national recycling advocacy group that covers all aspects of waste management. They strive to break the ground in how Americans think about waste. They are the largest national non-profit organization decided to recycling, reuse, and waste management. In order to mobilize their recycling community they provide them with professional education and networking opportunities, and come together to advocate for recycling programs locally, nationally and federally.
Current Efforts Opposing Change
There is an entire community of people who continue to reject the movement towards recycling and reusing. These groups of people believe that recycling in fact causes more waste by the use of excess energy, and that the reused product is of significantly lesser value and quality. Specifically, these people oppose government intervention in
The Wisconsin Environmental Working Group
As an affiliate of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the group advises Wisconsin’s policy makers on all environmental issues. According to its website, the group pushes an environmentally friendly legislative agenda based on facts and sound research. The state recently launched E-Cycle Wis-
the marketplace, because they believe that government-run recycling programs tend to use more energy than they save. In essence, this group would strongly oppose the government intervention of public policy we are planning on implementing.
resale centers and improve their business.
Consumers This issue affects their consumption habits as well as their social/political interest in the environment. Moreover, they could save money due to their interest in the issue which would in turn aid them in this hard economic climate. Government If we are able to cut down consumption, that is less money being spent/put into the economy and if we are able to cut sales taxes for resale shops, that is less money (taxes) being given to the government. However, aiding impoverished families and reducing credit card debt through decreased consumption might help renew the economy for the future.
Clothing manufacturers If taxes are raised/lower depending on the product’s impact on the environment, it will impact clothing manufacturers’ future lines of clothing and the material used in them. Also, consumer trends away from hyper-consumption and toward recycled clothing or environmentally friendly clothing might adversely affect these manufacturers businesses if they do not respond to changes in public opinion. Impoverished families in Wisconsin By implementing ways to make sure more clothing gets passed along (and “recycled”), these families will be provided with usable clothing that they do not have to pay for thus reducing their financial burdens. Environmental advocates Our goal toward this issue aligns with the goals of these advocates and could help them push their agendas forward by making people aware of how even the clothing we wear, how we wash it and how much we buy impacts the environment. Clothing retailers By lowering or getting rid of sales tax on resold clothing, these centers can improve their business and appeal to consumers. Also promoting a trend of recycling as well as donating used clothing will encourage community members to contribute more with these
Public policy There are several public policies issued for consumers to follow that provide consumers with incentives to support recycling and collaborative consumption. For example, on all plastic bottles there is a reward for recycling, an incentive for many to recycle. In our case, we hope to see our policy’s implementation reward consumers after purchasing environmentally friendly products or causes. Companies and corporations who promote collaborative consumption and the decrease of hyper-consumption have a great effect on consumers and the products they purchase.
Celebrities who promote and support the movement have an extremely strong impact on our society. Due to our society’s tendency to idolize celebrities, many people follow in the footsteps of celebrities, trying to make the changes they are supporting. Especially with the “Go Green” movement, many celebrities are actively getting involved, and shaping public opinions. Media By covering the movement, the changes being made, the celebrities that are involved, and the industries that are turning around because of it, it becomes a societal norm, and greatly impacts the public opinion.
a radical group of anti-consumerists, are a group actively reject capitalism by living off uses goods and is the only movement receiving any notable attention from the media.
Media & New Technology Usage
In Madison, Wis. there are various types of media outlets. Here is the list of mediums that engage the Madison community: City-wide magazines City-wide newspaper Internet Television Public Radio The Madison community also has new communication technologies available to them. Here is a list of mediums that engage the Madison community, but are not necessarily used: Geo-based programs (like FourSquare, Loopt, Facebook Places, and Yelp) QR codes (for smart phone users) Smartphone applications (like GreenLaser)
Hyper-consumption in the Media
On a national level, hyper-consumption and America’s consumer culture is encouraged by way of reality television. Wheeler Winston Dixon’s article published in the Quarterly Review of Film and Video argues that shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and The Swan suggest to viewers that they can buy what they want, when they want, in order to satisfy their need for instant gratification. In Madison, Wis., traditional media outlets have not dedicated any substantial coverage to consumer culture and the resulting environmental consequences. Freegans,
Individuals in Madison primarily use traditional media. Wisconsin State Journal Print newspaper Readers in 20 counties in Wisconsin reaches 381,392 adults in Dane, Sauk, Columbia and Dodge Counties during an average week.
Capital Times Print newspaper 76,000 copies of the cap times are distributed throughout the Dane County area each week.
Older generations use the Internet as a tool for “research, shopping and banking” To them, the Internet is “a tool for information searches, emailing and buying products.” Generation X (Internet users ages 33-44) continues to lead in online shopping. Fully 80% of Generation X Internet users buy products online, compared with 71% of Internet users ages 18-32. Wireless Internet Usage 56 percent of Americans have accessed the Internet wirelessly. 32 percent of all Americans have gotten online with a mobile device and in an April 2009 Pew Internet study, 19 percent of Americans said they had yesterday accessed the Internet on their mobile device. African Americans are the most active users of the mobile Internet
New Communication Technology Usage
83 percent of Americans use a mobile phone and 25 percent of Americans use a smart phone. The majority of consumers interact with new communication technologies in some way, but each consumer group’s degree of interaction varies. Internet Usage As of 2008, over 90% of 12-17 year-olds are online, 88% of 18-24 year-olds, 85% of 25-29 year-olds, 87% of 30-34 year-olds. Broadband access has doubled for many age groups, tripled in oldest groups. Almost all age groups are above 60% for homes with Broadband except for the oldest demographics. Interest in online shopping is significantly lower among the youngest and oldest groups; 38% of online teens buy products online, as do 56% of Internet users ages 64-72 and 47% of Internet users age 73 and older. Teens and Generation Y (Internet users age 18-32) are the most likely groups to use the Internet for “entertainment and for communicating with friends and family” Also they are “more likely than older users to read other people’s blogs and to write their own;” and, “considerably more likely than older generations to use social networking sites and to create profiles on those sites.”
“Wherever Americans can find a wireless network, whether it is WiFi or one provided by a cell phone carrier, many are apt to take advantage of it for a tweet, text, or information nugget.”
-2008 Pew Internet Study Twitter and content-sharing looms large for some mobile users. One in six (17%) say they see posting or sharing content as a very important dimension to mobile access. The 11% of online users who have Twitter accounts or monitor Twitter updates are twice as likely as the average to say that sharing or posting content is very important to why they value mobile access.
Using Traditional Media for Change
The most popular ways people are using traditional media to get involved with hyperconsumption is by writing opinion editorials to raise awareness. Because the green movement is one that requires an abundance of community involvement and interaction, traditional media often lacks the interactive component that social media provides. Issues covered in the media, publications on the issues, fliers and even personal directory calls can many times fail to actually motivate its audiences to make change. Traditional media tactics such as print advertisements, is an effective way to supplement a movement. For example, many people create traditional fliers to post around communities to encourage recycling and reusing. In addition to fliers, “green activists” also use phone directories to call up local families to encourage them to join the green movement, as well as provide them with helpful hints on other efficient ways to save. Using traditional media solutions in tandem with social media solutions can create an extremely effective and beneficial campaign that raises awareness. This awareness leads to action and change. Direct action activism—protests and guerrilla tactics such as culture jamming and graffiti—have become pastimes also related to the green movement.
gence of social technologies and a renewed belief in the importance of community. More consumers are using online initiatives and new communication technology to solve pressing environmental concerns and cost conscious are moving away from old wasteful forms of consumerism and engaging in more sharing, aggregation, openness, and cooperation.
Today, people have been specifically engaging in collaborative consumption to help solve the issue of hyper-consumption. People are doing more swap trading of purchased items such as books, DVDs, games, and more. E-Bay has been a popular communication technology that also serves as a marketplace for sharing items. In Madison, we see websites like Community Car that allow drivers to share vehicles. Activists have used new communication technology to successfully raise awareness. Some have began to blog about hyper-consumption, and other have used new media such as YouTube to upload videos about hyper-consumption to raise awareness. Throughout, there are few efforts gaining momentum that encourage collaborative clothing consumption through temporary swaps and trades.
Using New Media for Change
The 21st century is bringing about the conver-
Planning & Design
Planning & Design
The primary objective of our social campaign is to create a platform for the Madison community where users can engage in reducing the issue of hyper-consumption by clothing exchanges with other people from the community. Our website will create a friendly society of eco-conscious and clothing-loving people who are looking to exchange or donate clothing and accessories they no longer need or wear. Our website hopes to continue the trend of collaborative consumption and will connect members through social media and other new communication technologies that will make the process of swapping clothes fun and easy. Our website will help raise awareness of hyper-consumption to help members learn, share, socialize, and get inspired to participate in the art of swapping. Our site will track the progress of our members by keeping a calendar of swaps and donations made on the site to motivate others to participate and let them know what is going on daily. While other community closet sites exists, none are targeted towards Madison community members and most of them are simply sites for thrift stores to state their mission and direct people to their stores in certain areas. To differentiate our website, we would like to mobilize people completely online using new communication technologies that connect consumers with each other and with our partners and sponsors. Our campaign will give people opportunities to mobilize and ultimately encourage policy makers to allow for better tax incentives for companies em-
ploying environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes. Members will be able to make exchanges with one another by networking online and posting offers for the following items:
Eco-friendly consumers Swashion primarily targets eco-friendly consumers. Primary users will be Generation X consumers since 80% of these Internet users buy products online, but we will not limit the site to any age group or demographic. We want users who are interested in social media to make the website “fun” and to attract users who desire to help the environment.
Trendy mom of two swaps clothes for herself and her kids on a budget Kids are expensive. For a stylish mom who can’t afford to keep up with the latest fashions as her children age, Swashion is a great resource. Not only can she swap her own clothes with other like-minded mothers, but she can also swap clothes for her kids. For example, a 35-year-old mother of two already realizes the environmental impacts caused by new clothing consumption but doesn’t really know of anything she can do to reduce her impact. Not buying new clothes would require dramatic changes in lifestyle - lifestyle changes she isn’t willing
to make. She is well aware that hyper-consumption is bad for the environment and her savings account, but enjoys looking nice. Too, it is difficult to buy clothes for herself and her kids as they outgrow their old clothes seemingly everyday. After hearing a short PSA on the radio on her way to work about over consumption and Swashion, she decides to check out the website. While she isn’t on Twitter, she does have a Facebook page to keep tabs on her older child. She connects with Swashion on Facebook to learn more about some of the upcoming events and makes a profile on Swashion’s website. She finds other members looking to meet-up and swap clothes for themselves and their kids, ultimately deciding she would like to get involved. After having a positive experience with another community member and learning more about the psychology that drives over-consumption from the resources on the website, she posts information to her own Facebook page, which is picked up by her co-workers. Her co-workers don’t have kids but are into fashion and eco-friendly shopping. Eventually, the woman begins attending clothing swaps with her friends, making the process exciting, social and an overall fun event. Three months later and she now has increased access to outfits for herself and her growing children without spending money. Spending time with her friends and co-workers in a social setting has become somewhat of an incentive, as well. Generation Y Our research shows that teens and Generation Y (18-32) Internet users are the most likely to use the Internet as entertainment and connecting with their friends and they
are more likely than other age groups to use social networking sites and create profiles on those sites. Also Generation Y users’ spending priorities focus on personal appearance with apparel representing a significant outflow of money. Generation X (33-44) users are our other primary target because they lead in online shopping, but older generations are also using the Internet as a tool for research and shopping as well. These users are big spenders on their children and have high indexes for spending money on children’s apparel so they are highly affected by the issue. Aside from our primary consumer target, other relevant publics include clothing manufacturers, impoverished families in Wisconsin, environmental advocates, and clothing resale sellers (details cited in the research draft).
High School Student looking to upgrade style on a budget In general, as high school students mature, they begin taking interest in issues that either
directly affect them or are relevant to their generation. Dedicated to educating users about the environmental impacts of clothing consumption, Swashion provides a resource for young users to learn more about their pur-
chasing habits and the environment. Simultaneously giving them a way to take action - by participating in clothing swap events will help shape their future behaviors as they become independent consumers.
Threats and Oppositions
Large retailers that sell clothing at affordable prices will pose a threat to our mission and serve as our competition. Because Swashion discourages new clothing consumption, large retailers will likely combat our presence by emphasizing their convenience to shoppers. To combat their ability to draw customers in with the convenience claim, Swashion emphasizes the issue of over consumption. The site is not simply a place to obtain clothing; rather, it is an active decision to help the environment and achieve a mindset that is not driven by instant gratification and the newest, latest trends. The various platforms used to promote Swashion’s mission will advertise the harm in buying cheap clothes from large retailers, while providing resources on how to improve the way in which you obtain new clothes. Another threat that our group faces is the challenge that some people may not be willing to share their clothes for personal reasons such as privacy, germophobia, or concern for the quality of the clothing they wear. While we may not be able to completely change some people’s minds in regard to these mindsets we might be able to persuade them to get involved in our cause in a different way such as actively contributing to our blog or to our cause on either Facebook or Google. The general ubiquity of conspicuous consumption in the lives of many Americans will also prove a significant opposition to our cause because they will be unwilling to change their purchasing habits that they believe define them. In our attempts to promote our site and our cause we will need to remain away of this hidden threat. Branding
“Our campaign will give people opportunities to mobilize and encourage policy makers to allow for better tax incentives.”
For example, an 18-year-old senior at a Madison-area high school has always wondered about whether or not their extensive wardrobe has implications beyond the obvious hole in their wallet. While on Twitter, the student sees a popular group they follow re-tweeted a blog post from Swashion. After following the link and reading the short story, the student clicks through to the Swashion’s website where they find resources for the questions they’ve been pondering. Wanting to learn more, the student reads over the how-to section and spends time reading over how consumption affects the environment. Inspired, they learn how the clothing swap component works and decide to check out an event later in the month. After making a profile and connecting with other swappers of a similar size and style, the user continues to comeback when they’re looking for some new threads.
Aside from our primary consumer target, other relevant publics include clothing manufacturers, impoverished families in Wisconsin, environmental advocates, and clothing resale sellers.
our clothing swap as a trendy alternative to clothing shopping will definitely counteract this in part. Also simply improving the visibility of our group and our cause will force these people to reconsider their consumption patterns.
Swashion provides opportunities to learn about over-consumption, realize the environmental impacts of their consumption and ultimately provide a way for them to take action. Utilizing technologies that our stakeholders are already using is an opportunity in it of itself. The majority of our target users already have a presence on new communication technologies. Moreover, a lot of their information comes from these sites and it is this information that drives a lot of their decisionmaking.
a “Swashion” fan page, we will increase awareness of our services, as well as drive Facebook users to our website. We will also link our website to Facebook, by allowing our users to share their recent swaps, or clothing they have to swap, on their Facebook profiles, to increase awareness of this “community closet.” Flickr: We are going to use Flickr to host images of clothing that is being swapped and embed them into our social media site. With this photo sharing site, our consumers will have the ability to easily upload photos to make the clothing swap a more interactive, easy and trustworthy process. Twitter: By creating a “Swashion” Twitter account, we will have the ability to generate awareness for Twitter users. Twitter is extremely immediate and can allow consumers connect with other users who want to selforganize for this cause. We will tweet about various news stories that we find interesting and relevant to our cause. Also, by following various opinion leaders interested in hyperconsumption or eco-friendly clothing trends we will be able to connect with other interested people and draw them to our website. Blogger: By utilizing Blogger on our website, our consumers will have the opportunity to create their very own Swap diary, which will consist of reviews and feedback of the clothing they have swapped as well as the users who are swapping. This will allow our consumers to personally interact with our Web sites, and hopefully help us make our services as best as possible. We will also user Blogger to embed a Style Feed, which updates our users with the latest styles in the Fashion world. This will include breaking Style News, as well as the most up-to-date Fashion Do’s and Dont’s.
Facebook: Facebook can be used to connect members and create event invitations to share with their friends. By creating
YouTube: We will create a YouTube channel to stimulate awareness on hyper-consumption. We will consistently create and post videos about the issue of hyper-consumption, tutorials on how our swap works, sharing green tips to take better care of your clothing and more! Google Maps: We will embed a Google map onto our site, to show our consumers where the local thrift shop retailers, eco-friendly retailers and clothing drop off sites that are located around the Madison area. Users will also have the ability to leave feedback and reviews on the locations listed on the map, to further mobilize users to these places. We will also allow users to recommend new locations to place on the map.
Foursquare: Eventually, within Google Maps, our users will have the ability to add ecofriendly businesses on the map to their Foursquare accounts. For example, while looking at the map, a user may want to add local thrift shops to their Foursquare places, as a reminder to visit those stores. By utilizing Foursquare we will help with achieving our general objective, of decreasing hyper-consumption in the Madison area.
Emphasizing Incentives With Technology
Savings Tracker: By using a calculator that measures the savings, our consumers will be aware of exactly how much they are saving for every swap they make. When users are posting clothing to swap, they will be asked to indicate the price range. Therefore, the consumer who receives the clothing, will be aware of their accumulated cost that they saved on clothing on their Savings Tracker. Our website would also include an aggregate Savings Tracker for all users that would also detail the cumulative environmental impact of the savings as well. QR Codes: We will create a two-dimensional code in which we will place in local thrift shops and clothing stores, to mobilize consumers to our URL on their mobile devices.
We plan to generate two promotional fliers that will utilize QR codes to draw people to our website. The first will be an informational flier that will explain our goals and the swapping aspect of our website while encouraging interested people to partake in the discussion. This flier will be posted at clothing resale stores, fair trade businesses, and businesses offering/specializing in environmentally conscious clothing because people that visit these locations are already interested in issues similar to hyper-consumption. Our second flier will appeal more to community member’s intrigue by displaying the QR code directing them to our website along with enticing but mysterious statements. This flier will be posted or handed out in areas trafficked by our target audience such as State Street, Library Mall, and various Madison high schools.
Using Twitter we will be able to connect to opinion leaders in the movements for clothes-swapping, eco-friendly clothing, and those against hyper-consumption. Once connected with this leaders we will be able to further connect with their followers who will share the same ideals. By tweeting about relevant news articles as well as our planned goals we will be able to draw in more interested users. Also, we plan to create a Twitter list of these interested parties to promote more interaction and to increase our group’s affiliation with them.
descriptions. Utilizing appropriate tags for our videos will increase the likelihood that YouTube users will stumble upon them in their casual viewing of other videos. Again, interacting with viewers by replying to comments will build our visibility.
How the Target Audiences Use Technology
Swashion draws the public in to participate in our campaign using several technologies. On our site, individuals will fill out a profile with relevant information like their size and style preference. Based off information they provide, ideally our site will recommend them with people to swap with based off similar interests and sizes. In addition, our site will have different topic heads per item of clothing, then filtered down for size and style if members would like to search on their own. Individuals will be able to find what they are looking for and then contribute to the discussion to find another user to swap with. Our site will also emphasize discussion using new technologies like a forum on our site, discussions on our Facebook Page, and allowing comments on any articles posted. Swashion encourages users to submit tips about how to recycle and reuse clothing in these discussion topics and through videos they can make and post to the discussion. Swashion will encourage users to participate in our campaign by implementing a reward system for posting comments and suggestions. Each month, we will pick the best two comments/posts and give them a prize in the form of a gift certificate to resale shops or clothing stores that only sell environmentally
We will utilize our blog in a similar way by publishing posts acknowledging other authorities on relevant topics and by interacting with those opinion leaders’ blogs through comments and cross-linking. This type of interaction will garner interest from viewers of those blogs as well as the bloggers themselves. In creating our own YouTube channel we plan to post videos demonstrating how our clothing swap will work and sharing ecofriendly ways to reuse or recycle clothing. We plan to share these videos publicly and encourage navigation to our YouTube channel and website by including links in the videos’
friendly clothes. Community Partners Cotton From Blue to Green Resale shops (such as ReThreats, Goodwill and Plato’s Closet) Google Cause: Oxfam fighting poverty and hunger by generating a greater base of clothing to go to people in need (last chain of recycled clothing) Organic Consumers Association SustainableStyle.org FairTradeClothing.org Wisconsin Center for Environmental Ed. High Schools We will specifically partner with the Center to help promote the creation of environmentally conscious clubs within high schools--possibly a more localized version of our clothing swap. They also provide opportunities through Environmental Grants that students can apply for to fund their clubs as well as various online resources. Overtime, we plan to expand our partnerships to eco-friendly brands to create incentives that reward consumers who send back their clothes to the manufacturer for future products. For example, Gap can sponsor a campaign partnering with our campaign to give discounts to consumers who return their old Gap clothing as a donation to receive a discount on future clothing. While this may counter our purpose because it will reward consumers if they buy more clothing, they are essentially members of our site who are buying clothing to swap in the long-run and are donating back to Gap to help the manufacturer demand more product. We will incorporate traditional media directly into our campaign by tweeting about relevant news articles and linking to relevant stories on our blog and website in general. Also we plan to launch PSA-style radio spots that will appear on our website and could potentially be featured on Madison-area radio stations. This recording will share facts about the current state of hyper-consumption as well as its environmental and social effects. It will also encourage listeners to get involved in this struggle in their own community by visiting our website and generally getting active in related projects. By issuing press releases about the effects of hyper-consumption and the role our website plans to play in the discussion, we plan to garner interest from traditional media outlets such as newspapers, television news stations and radios.
Swashion exploits hyper-consumption and combats the issue through clothing swaps that replace new clothing purchases. It also increases awareness among relevant publics about problems associated with hyperconsumption such as debt and excessive waste. Swashion seeks to be a community advocate for policy changes. In addition, our campaign encourages relevant publics to adopt a collaborative consumption lifestyle that could re-invent economic models of sharing, swapping and trading. The campaign’s use of social media and peer-to-peer online platform will build a community of likeminded individuals seeking to reduce their
Traditional Media 22
environmental impact. Swashion will be used in conjunction with a Facebook “cause” to further promote the issue of hyper-consumption and ways to combat it. Community members that are interested in our website and/or the issue of hyper-consumption are encouraged to support the cause on Facebook. From there, we will be able to start discussions about policy changes regarding tax incentives for ecofriendly clothing purchases. Furthermore we will be able to organize petitions and events with the help of individuals passionate about this issue. This base of people will help us promote the Swashion when it launches because they are more likely to be interested in engaging in a clothing trade and recycling outfits. Currently, Wisconsin offers assistance to small businesses looking to comply with state and federal air pollution regulations. Wisconsin’s Clean Air Assistance Program advises small businesses on environmentally friendly practices, but doesn’t provide any incentives to eliminate waste or produce eco-friendly products. While Wisconsin is a great place to do business, the existing policies discourage sustainability. Wisconsin’s low electricity rates decrease the financial burdens of using energy. In fact, Wisconsin offers credit for sales tax paid on energy used in manufacturing processes. Currently, Wisconsin does not provide tax exemptions, credits or incentives for companies who produce or sell eco-friendly clothing.
Swashion’s Policy Proposals
Swashion endorses environmentally friendly businesses that are interested in, or already moving toward, sustainable practices that consider the environmental consequences of their economic activities. Through online petitions and a partnership with the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, Swashion is building support for lobbying efforts that will benefit companies investing in green technologies, adopting lean manufacturing processes or producing eco-friendly clothing. Supporting legislation through this petition will demonstrate Madison’s commitment to preserving the environment and will help establish better tax benefits and tax incentives for sustainable business practices throughout the state.
SwashionMadison’s homepage features a variety of relevant and interesting information. As the first thing that people see when they visit the site, this page highlights the best and most important information to capture their attention. One of the most attention-grabbing aspects of the homepage is the rotating slideshow. This slideshow showcases the most recent and exciting information. It also displays a “featured swasher.” Click on the image of the swasher to read a personal testimonial about the value of actively participating in the Swashion community. The homepage also displays a Swashion Eco-Impact calculator to track and visually represent the money saved and amount of carbon footprint reduced from the Swashion community’s efforts. This serves to grab visitor’s attention and display the impact of Swashion in an understandable way. This page includes a quick response (QR) code that gives visitors direct access to the Swashion iPhone and Android application. Users are taken right to the app by taking a photo of this QR code with their iPhone or Android. The video at the bottom of the homepage is a valuable resource for individuals new to the Swashion community. The video provides a step-by-step instruction guide on how to navigate the site, incorporating visual and audio tools to be most effective.
When a user first comes to SwashionMadison.com, they can click “Join Us” to learn about the site’s purpose and mission. This page educates users on the easy and environmentally-friendly nature of swapping clothes and introduces them to the idea that this site also serves as a portal for information on issues concerning over-consumption and the environment. The mission of Swashion is to offer a platform for Madison community members to engage in reducing the issue of hyper-consumption by exchanging clothing. By spreading the concept of collaborative consumption, Swashion allows users to maintain the trendy, stylish wardrobe they desire, while reducing consumption habits and helping the environment. The “Join Us” page also provides a reward system to incentivize individuals to participate in this collaborative consumption effort. Once a Swashion user has completed 20 clothing swaps, they become eligible for a Swash Card. This card can be used at participating eco-friendly vendors and clothing-resale shops to receive 10-25% off purchases. The Swash Card program showcases local vendors that relate to Swashion Madison’s mission and offers rewards for those who Swash often.
Swashion’s Swash Diary displays various blogposts about issues involving consumption and green-living. Here, viewers can learn more about the issue of hyper-consumption and find ways to combat it. For example, one post describes Patagonia’s Common Threads Recycling Program and offers ways for individuals to recycle clothes that are no longer wearable or swashable. Blogging about issues relating to Swashion’s mission helps educate viewers in a more informal, participatory way. Any Swashion member is immediately granted access to post on the blog. This allows individuals to get involved and become a part of the solution against hyper-consumption. Once a Swashion member writes a post, a moderator from the Swashion team will read it and ensure that it is appropriate to be published. A main objective of our site is to educate individuals on the issue of hyper-consumption and ways to be more environmentally-friendly in regards to our clothing habits. The blog allows us to educate individuals in a way that they are more likely to pay attention to. The interactive nature of the Swash Diary gives readers a chance to provide their own thoughts and commentary. Swash Diary is updated often with new content, giving readers a reason to come back to our site.
The News and Events page provides a place for recent and relevant stories related to hyperconsumption. This page also provides links to news related to Swashion, such as recent press releases. The second half of the page is dedicated to past, recent and upcoming events related to our mission. Here, viewers will find planned Swashion events as well as similar events in the community. This page is linked to the calendar page which displays Swashion and community-run events in an organized platform powered by Google, to be as compatible with viewers personal calendars as possible.
The Get Active page promotes Swashion’s initiative to build support for lobbying efforts that will benefit companies investing in green technologies, adopting lean manufacturing processes or producing eco-friendly clothing. This site features Swashion’s partnership with the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council and provides access to a petition in support of policies that encourage sustainable business. Additionally, this page provides access to Swashion’s full stance on sustainable business policies as well as relevant links to become informed about Wisconsin’s current policies. This page showcases coalitions Swashion supports such as Forward Wisconsin. This page also includes a Swashion Survey asking viewers, “Would you support tax incentives for environmentally friendly clothing retailers and producers?”
The Green Living page features a map of Madison, highlighting locations of local organic clothing and resale stores. This provides viewers with information on where to find clothing in ways that reduce consumption habits and benefit the environment.
Underneath the map, there is a listing of green tips. Each week, one green tip is featured as the green tip of the week. The tip of the week also appears on the homepage’s rotating slideshow. These tips focus on ways to make your existing wardrobe last longer and to care for clothes in environmentally friendly ways, such as washing clothes in cold water and replacing fabric softener with white vinegar. This page also links to resources to help individuals live a greener life.
The tabs on along the left sidebar of the site indicate swapping forums for women, men, teens and kids. Separating the categories into these sections helps Swashion be an organized, easy-to-use platform. Users click which type of clothing they are looking for, then post onto the forum what they are looking for. Here, others can see the post and offer to swash with them (swap clothes). See a few examples of posts and swash-conversations below.
Swashion Press Release
Wisconsin’s First-ever Closet Swapping Site Launches in Madison
Swashion Madison promotes collaborative consumption and supports sustainable businesses. November 30, 2010 (Madison, WI) – Wisconsin’s first-ever clothing-swapping site launched this week to help consumers deal with hyper-consumption. SwashionMadison. com allows users to create a profile, swap clothing with other members and support legislative policies that support sustainable business practices. “Consumers are trending away from hyper-consumption to eliminate unnecessary purchases, reduce their individual impact on the environment and de-clutter their lives,” says Dennis Winters, chief labor economist for Wisconsin. “Swapping clothes is a great way to save money in the wake of the recession and engages Madisonians in the green movement.” The website is a platform where community members connect with other users to swap clothes and become active by engaging in policy change. Swashion supports environmentally friendly businesses in Wisconsin and seeks to push legislation that will provide tax benefits and incentives for companies taking steps to reduce the environmental impacts of their economic activities. “SwashionMadison.com seems like a great place for consumers to keep up with fashion trends without over-spending,” says UW-Madison Professor Douglas McLeod. “Madison has become such an eco-friendly place and stores helping the environment should certainly be rewarded.” Active members of the Swashion community are eligible for discounts at Madison resale shops and local retailers selling eco-friendly clothing. Members can also see how reducing their clothing consumption positively affects the environment - and their wallet - through Swashion’s eco-impact tracker. “I was hesitant about the whole concept of swapping... but then it was last-minute and I needed a new dress for a night out with my husband. Thanks to SwashionMadison, I connected with another member and swapped a purse for a fashionable dress hours before our date,” says Madison professional, mother of two, Amber Johnson.
Evaluation: Assessing Success and Failure
After gathering a random sample of students at the University of Wisconsin to use the Swashion site, we have received extremely positive feedback. The majority of respondents were most impressed by the great deal of content that is on the site in such a short period of time. Specifically, participants felt that the blog was a great tool to learn more about hyper-consumption, which ultimately made more students want to engage in swapping clothes. Students feel that the color scheme is extremely engaging and appropriate for our goals.
mention that they weren’t sure exactly how to utilize all the resources, especially how to swash (exchange clothing). In response, we generated explanatory videos. We embedded the first on our homepage which demonstrates the various ways to utilize our site, from swashing to getting active in our petition and policy proposals. We embedded the second video, which demonstrates how to swash, on each of the swash forum pages. In a second round of testing with a couple of our original participants, we received all around positive feedback from our tutorial videos and they rated the “Swash process” as easy, enjoyable and convenient.
At the time this was written our Google Analytics recorded these figures for our platform: • 62 unique visitors • 105 visits • 583 pageviews • 364 unique pageviews • 9.27 avg. time on site Before we discuss these figures, we must begin with a couple of qualifications. First, we must recognize that these numbers represent less than one full week of our website being live for use. Second, at least five of the visitors to our site were the members of our team. With those qualifications being stated, the figures do tell us a lot about the effectiveness of our site and how visitors use it. The nine minute average time spent on our site speaks well of the content we prepared for the site and mirrors the reactions we got from participants in our platform testing. Users must have found content in which they were
A common critique we heard from several students was that they wish there was a way to embed a photo of the item they were swapping directly into the Disqus forum, instead of having to use Flickr or an external link. Additionally, some students felt that the ‘News and Events’ and ‘Calendar’ tabs could be combined into one tab. After some thought, we agreed, as the Calendar has relevant events for our users to participate in. While our participants enjoyed the quality and amount of content on our site, they did
willing to spend time reading or interacting with. Our high number of pageviews and unique pageviews further demonstrates that our visitors are delving deeply into the site and exploring the different areas it offers. Apart from conclusions we learned from our testing subjects about the site and platform, we came to a few general conclusions about our campaign. We realized that most of the visitors to our site and those we engaged with were already active online. Because of this, we failed to actively engage those without access to the Internet or a social media presence. In retrospect we could have done more offline if we would have distributed the two fliers we generated or if we had garnered media attention with our press release. Currently, the infrastructure for swashing relies on our team members to go in and manually delete posts for swashes that were successfully completed. As the site gains more users, maintaining the swash zones would become more than our team could handle. In the future, we would like to give users the opportunity to do this on their own. Also, we have no search function within the swash zones which makes it more difficult to find individuals to successfully swash with.
stance and policy proposals engaged our users but no users signed our petition. Part of this is due to the location of the link to the petition, which was buried in the text of our Get Active page, and part is due to our failure to draw more attention to our petition on our site and through our social media outlets. It would have been more effective to host the petition on our site directly, but with limited time, we were unable to do this. Additionally, we did not meet the level of enforcement and control that we had hoped to have in the swash zones. For instance, we have no way of holding users liable for failing to return swashed items if they agreed to do so. Originally, we intended to collect users credit card information when they registered to prevent stealing or damaging items swapped. If we continued our platform we would certainly have to do more to protect Swashers, their property and their personal information. One solution might be allowing users to log in to our site and then set up the swash zones with restricted viewing. Below we have included an evaluation of each of our social media outlets and additional aspects of our platform:
When executing our site and utilizing social media to better interact with consumers, we were skeptical about the success of our Facebook page. We were specifically hesitant of Facebook becoming dominant over our actual website, as it has the power to do so. Because we did not want the Swashes to take place on our Facebook wall, we felt that there was little use for a Facebook page at all. Currently, this social networking site is
To improve the site further, we could have expanded the policy portion of our platform. The information we included about our
merely working as a tool to increase awareness, so we are not investing a great deal of time into the page. However, Twitter and YouTube are doing a better job at building awareness while also enabling interaction between us and our consumers.
topics helped to keep our community engaged because most of our target audience utilizes Twitter as a source of news. At the time this was written our Twitter account @Swashion had 62 active followers. While some of these followers may not be truly interested in our group or our cause, many of them are. For example, a female eco-friendly clothing designer based in Hawaii @SoulRoleEco @mentioned Swashion in response to one of our tweets about green living news. More impressively, @loveandtrash tweeted “@Swashion Great work! The world needs more people like you” in response to a tweet explaining our clothing swap goals. Moreover, local Madison media outlets began following our Twitter account including @CapTimes and @WIStateTimes. Followers like these help promote the legitimacy of our cause and group as well as improve our visibility in the Madison community. To better utilize our Twitter, we could have began tweeting even earlier in the course of the class to have a longer time to build a following and create a community before the website’s launch. We also could have utilized hashtags about topics relevant to our target audiences such as #swappingclothes or #madisonswap. Another downfall of utilizing Twitter is that the social media outlet encourages more global interactivity than the community involvement we were looking to build. In addition, our survey results show that 72 percent of our respondents do not use Twitter which means that the social media venue may not resonate with our audience as much as we would have liked it to.
“Participants felt that the blog was a great tool to learn more about hyper-consumption, which ultimately made more students want to engage in swapping clothes.” YouTube
While our original goal was for users to engage with us through posting their own videos to YouTube about Swashion, we determined that the most realistic way to interact with our audience on YouTube was through explanatory videos of our site and the Swashion trend itself. We generated three videos to engage our site’s visitors. The first two were tutorial videos that we embedded into our site, but the third was an attempt to garner more buzz and interest in our platform. We shared this commercial-like video (http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUGhEpa6Ulw) through the rest of our social media.
In order to generate buzz about our website and the Swashion trend, we began gaining an active Twitter following before our site launch. We tweeted green living tips, retweeted relevant news by those we follow, and shared links to our website, videos and blog posts. Keeping up with these “news-like”
As an attempt to further our engagement with our audience, we generated a smartphone app to allow members of our Swashion community to keep up with Swashion on the go. The app includes an RSS feed of our blog “Swash Diary,” a Twitter feed from @swashion, a Facebook feed from our fan page, and a poll asking users if they would support our tax incentives for eco-friendly clothing stores and resale clothing stores.
app provided a unique and tech-savvy element to our platform but we may not have been realistic in our hopes for its implementation.
We idealized Flickr as a further means of engaging our audience by permitting them to share images of clothes they would like to swash. For our platform this meant creating a link to our Flickr photostream and encouraging Swashers to post their pictures their for reference in the swashing zone’s posting area. We did not invest much effort in our Flickr account because we realize Flickr has not reached critical mass with our audience. Its integration with our commenting system allows users the opportunity to include images in swash proposals that they otherwise would not have had an easy and efficient way to do so.
Join the Community Get your Swash on!
In theory the app would be the ideal way to stay in touch with Swashion’s most relevant content and even new swashing opportunities that Swashion would tweet. In practice however, the app only gained slight interest with merely seven visits to the download page and no downloads beside our own. Part of this may be a result of limited action on our website, but there are some other possible limitations. The app is only available for iPhone and Android phone users which presents a large barrier to entry. Overall the
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