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Free Store encourages college sustainability

Ashley Charnley | Friday, December 3, 2010

The free store that allows Saint Mary’s students to donate unwanted items so that other students may use them is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Items in the store, which is sponsored by Saint Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition (SMEAC), include furniture, table, chairs and other items that would be found in a dorm room.

Senior Ashley Cook, co-president of SMEAC, said the change in store hours has increased use, but also increased the need for donations. The store, located in the basement of Le Mans Hall, is open to all students.

“Students expressed interest in having the free store open more often so that they come whenever convenient for them,” Cook said. “We now have the free store open 24 hours so that students can either donate or pick up used items at any time.”

Although the change has resulted in an increase in use of the store, but Cook said SMEAC now needs more donations in order to keep the store full.

“Because of this change we have noticed the free store becoming [emptier],” Cook said. “This is great because it shows students are using the free store even more. However, we are hoping for an increased amount of donations to keep the free store open and stocked with many useful items.”

Cook said students should drop by the store before they go out and purchase items they need. She said the store aligns with SMEAC’s mission to improve the environment.

“We encourage all students to donate whenever they do not use an item and to stop by the free store before buying an item they need,” Cook said. “This is our way of reducing, reusing and recycling because it is keeping so many objects out of the trash.”

The idea for the store came to the group when a visiting speaker came to campus and suggested the idea.

“There was a guest speaker invited by SMEAC named Dr. Weber from Warren Wilson College who spoke to our campus about how to become more sustainable,” Cook said. “She had mentioned that Warren Wilson College had a free store.”

The store relies completely on donation. Cook said a lot of students and even faculty have already given supplies.

“We are no longer keeping a log of donations since the free store is open 24 hours, meaning there isn’t a volunteer working the free store and keeping records,” Cook said. “However, I do know we received numerous donations from students and faculty this year. We have all of these people to thank for keeping our free store up and running.”

As long as donations continue to come in, Cook said she would like to keep it a part of the “Saint Mary’s culture.”

“Since we are keeping so many items out of the trash and making them available for reuse we feel like it is a great way of giving back, by reducing the college’s amount of waste,” she said.