Kennesaw State University’s OwlSwap Program Earns Global Recognition as AASHE Sustainability Award Finalist

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 8, 2023)Student at Kennesaw State OwlSwapKennesaw State University’s OwlSwap program was one of five finalists in its category for the 2023 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) awards. The AASHE Sustainability Awards provide global recognition to the individuals and organizations leading the higher education sustainability movement. With the help of volunteer judges, this program raises the visibility of high-impact projects, pioneering research, and student leadership that helps to disseminate innovations and inspire continued progress toward environmental, social, and economic health. This year’s AASHE Sustainability Awards included 43 finalists in nine categories. OwlSwap’s, “Campus Sustainability Achievement Award,” category included Duke University, Indiana University, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Emory University.

The outstanding individuals and institutions recognized as finalists were selected based on overall impact, innovation, stakeholder involvement, clarity, and other criteria specific to each award category. “We are thrilled that OwlSwap was selected as one of only five finalists for the prestigious AASHE Campus Sustainability Achievement Award and proud of the hard work and innovation in sustainability that this award recognizes,” said Vanessa Slinger-Friedman, Ph.D., Geography Professor, and Coordinator of OwlSwap.  “This acknowledgment from AASHE highlights that OwlSwap isn’t just a closet, it’s a movement shaping a sustainable, stylish, and successful future. OwlSwap addresses environmental and social equity issues while unlocking a world of conscious fashion and career possibilities,” Slinger-Friedman added.

Born out of the desire of students in KSU Senior Lecturer of Geography Jason Rhodes’ Geography of Clothing course to address the negative impacts of fast fashion, OwlSwap has become a KSU institution which today serves both internal and external community members who are in need. Measurable impacts include giving free clothing items from the campus closet valued at more than $73,830 since 2021; redirecting 4,898 clothing items to local partners such as MUST Ministries, Beloved Community Church in Pittsburg, Atlanta, and Hope Through Soap; and collecting 2,089 pounds of university textiles for upcycling between August 2020 and June 2022. 

“The higher education sustainability community continues to show themselves as leaders in the global sustainability movement. This is never more evident than through the many entries received for the AASHE Sustainability Awards,” said Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “I am proud to recognize the innovation and leadership demonstrated by this year’s finalists.” 

OwlSwap continues its mission to promote sustainability in textiles and fashion through inclusive events and educational opportunities, build global engagement through collaborative research, and directly support the university and the local community through outreach programs and events. Learn more about OwlSwap’s events and initiatives by visiting the website.