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SMEAC Free Store offers used items

Alicia Smith | Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The members of Saint Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition (SMEAC) strive to be positive role models on campus by promoting the well being of the environment and enacting change, Monica Aguirre, co-president of SMEAC, said.

“A lot of the time, we are geared toward reaching out to the campus,” Aguirre said.

The club hosts several programs and events at the College that are geared to draw awareness to environmental issues. One such program is the SMEAC Free Store, which is designed to allow students to reuse unwanted items instead of throwing them away.

“We are helping the community, but we are trying to get the campus to help the community more,” said Katherine Kohler, the Free Store coordinator.

The store is located in the basement of Le Mans Hall and offers a variety of items including furniture and decorative items such as vases and holiday décor.

“Saint Mary’s needs to learn about recycling and reusing items because I think that sometimes in our population that idea is lost,” Aguirre said. “If you take something from the Free Store, the owner might see it and that should be OK. Just getting that mentality that it doesn’t have to be new.”

The Free Store, which will now be open 24 hours, hosted its grand opening Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Instead of having to go out and buy bookshelves and other stuff, you can come here and get it for free, which will save money and save the environment,” said Ellen Huelsmann, vice president of SMEAC.

The Free Store accepts almost all items that are in good condition, Kohler said.

According to Aguirre, the club is planning other activities as well. A tie-dying event is currently in the works; students will be invited to bring an old shirt, tie-dye it and keep it.

Another event SMEAC sponsors is Weigh Your Waste, an annual event that measures the amount of food students, faculty and staff dispose of during a single lunch period, will be held again this year.

“That [Weigh Your Waste] has the potential to have the most impact because when you see that we we’ve wasted in one lunch period 150 pounds a day, which could be equivalent to over 500 pounds a day, this is fact,” Aguirre said.

Other events include Race to Recycling, a competition in which two people sort through trashcans and determine what can and cannot be recycled.

In addition, Aguirre said SMEAC is planning on making this year’s Earth Week bigger and better.

The club meets weekly to plan activities and discuss how to get students involved.

“It’s only an hour commitment, but what the campus gets back from everybody getting involved is a lot because we’re changing the ideas on campus,” Kohler said. “If you care about it, do something.”