UThrift: UM’s mobile thrift store

Sofia Mesa, a member of ECO Agency's Green Committee, explains UThrift to an interested student during the Wednesday Farmer's Market. Photo credit: Natalia Rovira

One of the Green Committee’s newest initiatives, UThrift, seeks to help students reuse and recycle clothes instead of just cans.

Last year, sophomore international studies and French double major Nika Seider established UThrift–a mobile thrift store where students exchange their old items of clothing for new ones, or at least clothes that are new to them. For every item students donate to UThrift, they can take home a bonus piece of clothing for free, one that someone else donated.

UThrift is meant to help students reduce their participation in the fast-fashion industry, which often uses large amounts of water and contributes to air and water pollution. Reusing items that have already been made reduces the demand for new clothes and gives less power to companies with unsustainable environmental practices.

Additionally, this program helps to reduce waste by preventing clothes from being thrown away and ending up in landfills. Instead, UThrift provides students with a sustainable way to dispose of unwanted clothing.

“UThrift was started because we want to encourage the reusing of items,” said ECO-rep Sofia Mesa, a freshman double majoring in English and ecosystem science and policy. “Before people throw things away, we hope they can give it to us and then maybe there’s someone else out there that can use it.”

Mesa said she joined the UThrift initiative partially out of a personal love for thrift shopping but also because she felt overwhelmed by materialism.

“It’s nice to cut down and just keep things that you really, really love, to cut off all the extra stuff,” said Mesa, who works with the student government’s Green Committee. “Surprisingly, we get a lot of designer brands. We were just looking at a pair of Kate Spade shoes and we had a Vince Camuto striped shirt a little while ago too.”

Although clothes are its focus, UThrift hosts a wide variety of other tradable items, including shoes, books, and even office supplies.

UThrift will take anything that’s clean and in good condition, but the organizers make sure not to throw away anything, even items that don’t meet their standards. They donate them to other thrift stores so those items have the chance to be used by someone else, Mesa said.

Students can find the UThrift stand at the farmers market every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. UThrift also accepts drop-off donations in the student government ECO office at any time throughout the week. Mesa said her team, which also includes students Bhargavi Pochi and Jessica Nussbaum, is working on setting up donation bins around campus.