Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, September 21, 2018

Women's Initiative and Zero Waste host pop-up thrift shop

Two-day event donated proceeds to charity in U.S. Virgin Islands

Women's Initiative and Zero Waste host pop-up thrift shop

A student passing by the thrift shop on Tuesday looks at the tables of clothing donations to choose from. 

Women’s Initiative and Zero Waste teamed up to host a pop-up thrift shop on the AU quad on Oct. 23 and 24. The goal was to teach students how to shop for and recycle clothes to increase sustainability. All of the proceeds will benefit the Women’s Coalition of St Croix that provides housing and counseling resources to women in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The idea for the pop-up thrift shop came from senior Maria Gramajo, the environmental and climate justice coordinator for Women’s Initiative. Gramajo doesn’t support the idea of “fast fashion” and often buys clothes from thrift stores because it is a less expensive and more sustainable way to adapt to new fashion trends.

She donates any clothes that she doesn’t like or no longer wears back to thrift stores so that other customers can get a new use out of them. Gramajo thought that bringing a thrift shop to campus would allow other students to do the same.

“The idea of fast fashion is still around where you get tired of your clothes every couple of weeks,” Gramajo said. “It’s nice to have clothes available and have people just come up and pick up whatever they want.”

Students and faculty members donated the clothes from the thrift shop. Students dropped off old clothing and shoes in boxes in East Campus, Clark and Roper Halls and the WI office. About 60 pieces were donated to the pop-up thrift shop, said junior Sofia Mongeon, Zero Waste’s event coordinator.

Gramajo reached out to Zero Waste to co-sponsor the event because Zero Waste advocates for sustainability and has sponsored clothing donation events in the past, she said. Zero Waste co-sponsored a pop-up thrift shop last year with Nourish AU and annually donates clothing from students moving out of the dorms to local shelters. This is called Project Move Out.

Mongeon said she believes that sustainability events are great for teaching students how to be more environmentally conscious because wasted textiles pollute the environment.

“We’re all about trying to teach the student body about being sustainable and small things that they can do,” Mongeon said.

The thrift shop was a donate-what-you-can event with proceeds benefiting the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. The charity helps domestic violence victims and survivors gain financial independence through counseling and temporary safe housing. Gramajo chose this charity because she wanted to bring attention to a cause that she doesn’t believe many students know about.

“The Virgin Islands hasn’t received as much attention as places in the United States and Mexico even though it is so close to the United States,” Gramajo said.

Students on the quad that donated and picked up clothes at the thrift shop were glad to hear that proceeds benefited this cause. Aliyah John, a senior who is a regular thrift shop customer stopped by the shop with a friend.

“I think someone’s finally focusing on the Virgin Islands and St. Croix and I’m totally in support of it,” John said.

Another student, Yeapsera Mengistu, approached the thrift shop not knowing what it was. After talking to Gramajo, Aleshia Bynum and Grace Pugh, all of whom worked the event, she was immediately drawn in because she is passionate about combating domestic violence.

“That’s actually something that’s really important to me because my mother and I work at an organization back home that helps shelter women from domestic violence,” Mengistu said. “We offer them opportunities to get help, whether it is to go back to school or report the case. Just hearing that sold me automatically, plus I do need clothes.”

Gramajo and the rest of WI hope to put on another pop-up thrift shop next semester to continue bringing sustainability efforts to campus like clothing swaps.

“They are all really excited about the same mission as I am,” Gramajo said.

lcalitri@theeagleonline.com


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