Old Clothes Cluttering Your Closet? Swap-O-Rama-Rama!

SORR participants look through piles of clothes in Des Moines last year. Photo: Courtesy Des Moines Shop-O-Rama-Rama

I’ll bet you have clothes in your closet that you haven’t worn for years. And how about shoes? How many of those are cluttering your shoe rack or heaped on the floor?

Two of the three Des Moines SORR co-organizers, Kelsey Blessman (L) and Elizabeth Andrews (R). Photo: Courtesy Des Moines Shop-O-Rama-Rama

The vast majority of people reading this post have clothes that you’ve forgotten about. What good are they doing cluttering up limited closet and drawer space? Isn’t it time to tell them to move along?

After all, someone, somewhere, would love to have a gently used pair of jeans in the size that no longer fits you. Or maybe they’d enjoy those black pumps you only wore a couple of times before deciding they’re not really your style. And that cool outfit you bought that turned out to look better in the magazine than it does on you? Yeah, somebody else would like that one, too.

Swap-O-Rama-Rama (SORR) is an event designed to solve the problem of too many clothes and too little space. At a Swap-O-Rama-Rama, you donate your lovingly worn or long-forgotten clothing at the event, then take home something that’s just right for you today.

The phenomenon is sweeping the U.S., including Des Moines, Iowa, this Saturday. While the specific details of each event will vary, the general approach, licensed by Tremayne through Creative Commons, is the same.

Founder Wendy Tremayne, writing on the SORR website, says, “Swap-O-Rama-Rama is a clothing swap and series of do-it-yourself workshops in which a community explores creative reuse through the recycling of used clothing.”

How It Works

Work stations offer ways to spruce up (and spice up!) your clothing finds. Photo: Courtesy Des Moines Shop-O-Rama-Rama

Local Swap-O-Rama-Rama hosts — usually a nonprofit group — pick a location where there’s plenty of room for tables (or piles) of clothing, workshop areas, privacy for trying on “new” clothes, and a fashion runway.

As a participant, you bring a small donation ($10 in the case of the Des Moines Swap-O-Rama-Rama) and a bag of good, unwanted clothing.

Once inside the door, you’ll place your donated clothing in a designated area. In Des Moines, organizers Stephanie Bracelin, Kelsey Blessman, and Elizabeth Andrews — along with other volunteers — will sort the clothing on long tables. In some locations, participants heap the clothing into one large pile, and everyone just dives on in to see what they can find.

You get to sort through the pile(s) and select items you’d like to take home. Try on your new duds to see if they fit. But don’t expect a mirror. There won’t be any. This is a social event, where you’re encouraged to ask others how that outfit or shirt looks on you. Meet new friends as you browse together and help each other find a great, new look.

Embroidery adds a personal touch to gently used clothes. Photo: Courtesy Des Moines Shop-O-Rama-Rama

Once you’ve selected clothing, it’s time to head over to the workshop area. Would you love to embellish your new find, but don’t feel confident that you have the skill? No worries. Experts will be available to demonstrate all sorts of interesting fashion tips, such as how to —

  • Modify clothing to make an entirely new piece — a dress from men’s slacks, or a handbag from old ties, for example.
  • Screen print designs on a t-shirt or sundress using the YuDu.
  • Embellish jeans with rhinestones, buttons, lace, or embroidery.
  • Hand dye or bleach a shirt to give it a fresh look.
  • Apply needle felting techniques for a unique touch.
  • Make basic repairs or alterations using a sewing machine.

After you’ve customized your new clothes with your personal designer touch, pick up a free SORR label to sew into your new creation.

Who Benefits?

It’s hard to imagine a swap in which everything is taken at the end of the day. With Swap-O-Rama-Rama, nothing is ever wasted. Organizers donate the excess items to local charities.

In Des Moines, leftover clothing and shoes will be given to Hope Ministries, a local church organization that distributes clothing to homeless shelters and charity thrift stores.

What about the funds raised at the door? First, they go to paying expenses, says Kelsey Blessman, co-organizer of the Des Moines Swap-O-Rama-Rama. Any funds left after expenses will go to Blessman Ministries, a mission run by Kelsey’s relatives to do charitable work among impoverished people in South Africa.

Des Moines Swap-O-Rama-Rama

Swap-O-Rama-Rama will be in Des Moines April 24, 2010. Photo: Courtesy Des Moines Shop-O-Rama-Rama

When: April 24, 11 A.M. – 4 P.M.

Where: Make\Break
300 SW 5th St.
Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Parking: Free on the street

Admission: $10 plus one bag of good, used clothing and/or shoes

Come early! The first 30 participants will receive a bag of cool swag made by local artists and artisans.

Handmade Nation

Watch Handmade Nation at the Des Moines SORR. Photo: Courtesy Des Moines Swap-O-Rama-Rama

While you’re at Saturday’s Shop-O-Rama-Rama in Des Moines, take a break and watch a showing of Handmade Nation, an independent documentary by Faythe Levine. The film profiles 24 widely varied crafters from across the U.S., with interviews about the types of things they make, and how they get their inspiration. It’s only $5, and you might just come away with ideas

When: April 24, 11 A.M. – 4 P.M.

Show Times: 11:30 A.M., 2:30 P.M., and 4:30 P.M.

Where: Make\Break
300 SW 5th St.
Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Parking: Free on the street

Admission: $5 per person

For More Information

To find out more about attending a Swap-O-Rama-Rama, or to find one near you, visit the SORR website. If there’s no Swap-O-Rama-Rama in your area, you can learn how to start one of your own.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Natural Living Expo to Host EcoParty March 27 in Des Moines

Are you thinking about attending the Natural Living Expo at the Polk County Convention Center on March 27 and 28? If you’re going to be in the Des Moines (Iowa) area that weekend, here’s another reason to include the Expo in your plans: the EcoParty!

After the Expo closes for the day on Saturday (March 27) at 6 p.m., it’s time for the adults to kick back and have some fun. Iowa’s own natural living celebrity, Michele Beschen, will be your host for a food and fashion celebration from 6 to 9 p.m. Beschen, who is the host of Iowa Public Television’s b.organic show, will emcee the EcoParty fashion show.

Eco Fashion for Men and Women

Angela Clark, Natural Living Expo organizer. Photo: Courtesy Angela Clark

“This isn’t your typical fashion show,” says event organizer, Angela Clark. “We will be highlighting the green practices of each of the participating stores.” She adds, “Clothing made of natural fibers, companies with recycling programs, vintage clothing, fair trade, original designs featuring re-purposed clothing and local designers are in our dazzling lineup of eco-fashion!”

Visitors can expect clothing for both men and women in “casual, business, formal, and play attire.” Clark goes on to say, “And beyond featuring earth-friendly apparel and accessories, we are celebrating the Natural Living attributes of our models.

“We selected regular folks from our community who work at non-profits, live on farms, raise worms, raise chickens, do urban gardening, organize events for charitable causes, or lead the green movement in their daily grind, and generally live the good, natural life.”

Munch and Sip

The EcoParty follows the Natural Living Expo on Saturday, March 27. Photo: Courtesy Natural Living Expo

The Natural Living Expo itself is free. For the small price of $10 in advance or $15 at the door, you’ll be able to sample a variety of delicious natural and organic foods and beverages as you enjoy the fashion show.

As Clark says, “Local chefs will provide samples of fantastic food prepared with an emphasis on local and organic ingredients. All palates will be catered to including vegan, vegetarian and raw menu items. Locally owned tea and coffee houses, wineries and breweries will provide samples to complement the food menu.”

Watch for tasty offerings from these vendors (and many more):

  • Ebersole Cattle Company (beef)
  • Wallace Farms (wild Alaskan fish)
  • New Belgium Brewing Company (Fat Tire beer)
  • Mill Stream Brewing Company (beer)

Purchase tickets in advance at the Natural Living Expo website or at Midwestix.

Meet Us at the Expo

Please come early on Saturday to meet Joe and me. Joe will be volunteering Saturday from 2 to 6 at the Iowa Rivers Revival booth. I’ll be floating around, collecting “My 5” responses from vendors and guests. Get your photo taken and tell us what’s important to you. We’ll publish responses in a future post on Blue Planet Green Living.

And you can bet we’ll be there for the EcoParty, too! Will you?

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Related Post

Natural Living Expo, March 27 & 28 in Des Moines

Natural Living Expo, March 27 & 28 in Des Moines

There's something for everyone at the Natural Living Expo, from shopping (right), to browsing (center), to storytelling for the kids (left). Photo: Courtesy Natural LIving Expo

By the end of March, spring will be poking her head out from behind winter’s white dress. Leaves will begin to sprout, wearing a fleeting light-green that will deepen in hue by the time the summer arrives in all her glory. Ah, spring. What better time of year to be thinking about gardening, fresh produce, and delicious natural foods?

And what better event than the Natural Living Expo to entice sun-starved Midwesterners out of hibernation?

The Fifth Annual Natural Living Expo, to be held March 27 and 28 in Des Moines, promises to be bigger and even more exciting than in previous years. The Expo features natural, organic, and sustainable companies and products, live entertainment for kids and adults, and a speaker series on topics related to sustainability and health/wellness. Admission is FREE.

The Natural Living Expo’s newest Market Leader sponsor is Iowa’s own Natural Living celebrity, Michele Beschen, of the nationally televised program, borganic.net.

Natural Kids Zone

Hula hoop expert Mary Boydey will once again provide plenty of hoops for kids (and their parents) to try. Photo: Courtesy Natural Living Expo

Angela Clark, founder of enrgPATH and chief promoter of the Expo, reports there will be a wide variety of activities and entertainments at the event, many of them targeted to kids.

“We have what’s looking to be a fun line up for the Natural Kids Zone,” Clark says. “We have a hula-hooper, Mary Boyvey of Sparkle Hoop Dance. Mary had a blast last year, so she’s going to come back with kid-sized and adult-sized hula hoops. She does birthday parties for adults and kids. She’s bringing a juggler with her. There’s also a local gentleman who teaches kids how to play harmonicas. And we’ll have a yo-yo champion, whose full-time job is to promote yo-yos.”

Other activities in the Zone include kid-yoga, musicians, storytellers, clowns, and more. Metro Arts Alliance will be sponsoring the kids’ art area. With all the activities offered in the Natural Kids Zone.

Natural Living Speaker Series

The Expo also promises plenty of fodder for the mind — for adults and students of all ages. Want to learn how to build a straw bale home? Start a small-scale organic farm? Find a Reiki practitioner? Advocate for renewable energy? Eat healthy foods that please your palate?

Attend some of the many sessions offered at the Expo. The information below — from the Natural Living Expo website — describes  sessions of interest on Sustainability as well as Health and Wellness — with more to be announced. Times and speakers’ names will be released on the Expo website in coming weeks.

Angela Clark, director of the Natural Living Expo. Photo: Courtesy Angela Clark

Return of the Small-Scale Farmer
Markets are growing rapidly for independent farms and vineyards.  While corn and beans aren’t going anywhere, specialty niches are shaping up to give us the rebirth of the family farm.

Transportation That Works for All
Can Des Moines come out of the current recession with its public transportation intact?  Come find out what is possible in the city… and what might be at stake.

A Sustaining Built Environment
With so much talk about green building, where have all the green buildings gone?  You may be surprised.  Find out what people are doing under the radar and where you need to look to learn more.

Energy Independence Within Reach
If renewable energy is so great, why aren’t we using it?  You might be surprised.   Come find out, not what you can do now but, more importantly, when you should do it.

Zero Waste Horizons
Waste is a commodity, from the east coast to the west coast.  So, why not in Des Moines?  Find out what’s missing and what is being done to help residents and businesses.

Sunday, March 28 – SUSTAINABILITY

A New DNA for Business
Tired of hearing: “It’s nothing personal, just business?” Business is not only very personal, but it can be good for the environment. Find out how the real pioneers are turning things around in the 21st Century.

Food in the City
Growing urban environments require larger and more industrial forms of agriculture, right? Maybe not. Learn how our city and others are seeking food security and new roles as producers.

Non-Profits as Change Agents

Saturday, March 27 – HEALTH / WELLNESS

The Future of Holistic Health
Is Des Moines taking a larger, more inclusive, view of what it means to be healthy? Come learn what’s moving us forward and what’s holding us back.

Your Body is the Foundation
You are not your body. You do, however, want a healthy and vibrant body so you can access greater levels of health and wellness in your personal, social, professional and spiritual life.

Intuitive Health & Healing
What does Des Moines have to offer in the form of more intuitive therapies such as Reiki, Healing Touch, psychic readings, and more? Find out what works and where to get it.

Your Beautiful Spine
You are not your body. You do, however, want a healthy and vibrant body so you can access greater levels of health and wellness in your personal, social, professional and spiritual life.

The Science of Backrubs
Find out how massage therapy literally “breaks up” stress in your body, allowing you to release tension, change unhealthy patterns of thinking, and prevent stagnation in your own personal practices.

Sunday, March 28 – SUSTAINABILITY

Growing a Culture of Creativity
The arts inspire us. They drive innovation in every sector – from business to education. Over the last decade, Des Moines has made strides in building its art culture. Will it last?

Vote with Your Dollars
In a market economy, what you spend your money on is as good as a day at the polls. How can you not overspend, but spend consciously to improve the health of your community and the environment.

Nutrition Education
We all know the Food Pyramid.  Why isn’t that enough?  What are the simple, easy-to-remember rules on how to make appropriate food choices for ourselves and our families.

Strawbale Home Building in Iowa
An Earthship Home in Southern Iowa

More Green Building Classes by Center on Sustainable Communities will be posted soon.


Exhibitors will provide an array of interesting natural-living options. Photo: Courtesy Natural LIving Expo

The exhibitor list is still growing, but check out the varied list of participants registered so far. Many of them will have products, samples, and services for purchase at the Expo, so come prepared to try out samples for an unforgettable experience.

The Natural Living Expo provides a unique opportunity to learn about and try out offerings from a huge selection of the premier green businesses in the area.

Exhibitor slots are still available. See below for more information.

Attachment Parenting International 1000 Friends of Iowa
Arbonne International Foundation for Wellness Professionals
College of Massage and the Healing Arts Center Metro Waste Authority
Green Goods for the Home EP True Chiropractic
Diaper DuDee Diaper Service NICHE – Network of Iowa Christian
Home Educators
Wallace Farms Simply for Giggles
Yost Family Chiropractic Whole Woman Health
Willowsong Midwifery Homeschool Alliance for Iowa Learners
Xango/Glimpse Compass Chiropractic
Homestead (The) Novae Vitae Farms/Exodus Marketing
Chiropractic In Motion Beaverdale Books
Iowa Air Coalition Bowman Chiropractic
Prairiewoods ITWORKS
Silent Rivers Design + Build enrgPATH Resource Directory
ReStore Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity Be The Butterfly
Wander This World Fair World Gallery
Little Padded Seats Nucca Chiropractic
ADIO Chiropractic Jeanne’s Soaps Bed & Bath
One Step At a Time Gardens Midwest Acupuncture
Griffieon Family Farm Service Legends
Iowa Pet Foods In the Aisles Nutrition Counseling
Norwex Clean Enviro Earth Day in the Junction
The Solar Consultants Max International
World’s Best Cat Litter Lauracle
The Family Tree Designarchy
Profound Mystical Meditation for the
Western Society
Body Detox Center
X Fuze Various & Sundry
Sustainable Living Coalition Dr. Cheri Holloway
Complete Wellness BigOvations Media
Center On Sustainable Communities Gayle Onnen Photography


After the Expo concludes on Saturday, be sure to stick around for the EcoParty, an evening festival that “celebrates quality food and drink while enjoying an eco-fashion show,” according to the website. “It is a time for the Natural Living community to kick back and have some fun.”

The details haven’t yet been released, but from what Clark told Blue Planet Green Living, guests are in for an unusual, yummy, and entertaining experience. Watch for more information here on Blue Planet Green Living or on the Expo’s website in the next few weeks.

When and Where

Sat. March 27, 10:00 to 6:00 pm

Sun. March 28, 11:00 a.m to 4:00 pm

Polk County Convention Complex

501 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50309-2406
Get Directions

(515) 242-2507

Parking at the Civic Complex is free on weekends, and admission to the event is also free.

Calling Vendors, Sponsors, and Perfomers

If you’ve got an organic, green, natural, or healthy business or nonprofit organization, and are interested in participating in the event, it’s not too late. Contact Angela at 515-205-5494. Sponsors are also welcome! Register before March 1, and your information will be included in the program.

Blue Planet Green Living is a proud media partner for the event. We hope to see you there!

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Natural Living Expo

November 7, 2008 by  
Filed under 2009, Blog, Front Page, Iowa, Organic Food

Comments Off on Natural Living Expo

On March 28 and 29, 2009, the Natural Living Expo will take place in Des Moines, Iowa, at the Polk County Convention Complex. For the first time in its three-year history, the NLE will be held for two days, due to the overwhelmingly positive response to past expos. Admission is free for attendees.

If you are a consumer who cares about health, wellness, natural living, or sustainability issues, this conference will provide you with a wealth of useful information. You’ll have the opportunity to hear speakers on a variety of relevant topics and meet with vendors to learn about their organic, green, or natural products or services. Last year’s conference strands were “Living Healthy,” “Living Balanced,” and “Living Together.”

If you’re a vendor, sign up now for a spot at NLE. Two early bird discounts are offered for registration by November 15 or January 15. Space is limited, so be sure to secure your spot early.

Event hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Watch the NLE website for more information, as speakers and vendors are announced. As the conference site promises, you’ll “Discover resources in Iowa to help you be kind to your body and your planet.”