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Triangle Talks with Drexel Thrift | The Triangle
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Triangle Talks with Drexel Thrift

Photo courtesy of Drexel Thrift

Founded this term, Drexel Thrift is a student-run group that was created to promote sustainability on Drexel University’s campus. The first thrift drive event was held on March 10 on Lancaster Walk. 

The founding board includes Ameyalli Griffiths, a third-year animation student, Riley Smith, a fourth-year environmental studies and sustainability major, Mariana Barbosa, a fourth-year biology student and Ryleigh Ford and Zoe Warren, who are second- and third-year psychology majors. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Nicole Marie: What encouraged you to start Drexel Thrift?

Ryleigh Ford: We have a class called Psychology of Sustainability [PSY 352], and… we were asked to come up with a concept to make Drexel more sustainable… Last year, my RA from my dorm building had us thrift each other’s clothes to help not throw them out. So, I was like, “So, what if we do that bigger?” And we kind of just bounced off ideas and came up with Drexel Thrift.

Riley Smith: We all love thrifting and thought making a club out of it was a cool idea…and making a community out of it… He [their professor] wanted us to make a behavior change and we thought about that and were like, “Well, how can you deal with overconsumption?” That’s a giant issue to tackle but thrifting, giving something a second life before going in the trash, is the first step to get there. 

Zoe Warren: Some of my favorite clothing items that I have are thrifted, which is awesome… It was just like, “What do we all love to do that can also be something that we can contribute to campus to make it more sustainable?” And it’s also just fun!… Seeing the excitement on people’s faces of just finding things was really awesome.

RS: Giving people accessibility to clothes that are free, I think is really important, and with all the thrift stores around Center City that are overpriced, I feel like we could have really good stuff too, and hey, it’s free. 

Ameyalli Griffiths: And with whatever clothes…didn’t get picked up, we’re going to donate them to a women’s shelter… I volunteered at a women’s shelter a couple years back and really seeing where these clothes go, how much they actually help people, was honestly really impactful to me and a big reason why we discussed donating to women’s shelters, because they really need it. And I feel like a lot of clothes are just taken for granted.

ZW: I contacted NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I had a co-op with them last year, so I have that connection there. I emailed them, “Hey, what are some places around Philly that take donations?” and they gave me a whole list.

Mariana Barbosa: I also volunteer at a cat shelter named PAWS…they take anything like blankets or towels or bedding, so anything that we have that can be used for them, I’ll just bring over my next shift.  

AG: And we’re trying to see if maybe there’s items that are a little too used up, we’re trying to see if we can donate them to Westphal for the fashion department so they can use it.

NM: How did your first event go?

RS: We had our first event yesterday and it went well… we had a lot of people come. We had Mars, which is our mascot, which is [Mariana’s] cat, and he’s great and he came and a lot of people showed up just to pet the cat and then they were like, “Oh, clothes!”

ZW: We didn’t have a table, we were supposed to have a table… so we grabbed chairs on Lancaster Walk and just set up all the chairs… We labeled everything… We also had some volunteers come out and just help… Some people knew of the event from our Instagram and then other people were just walking by, saw the cat, said, “I want to pet the cat,” and then we were like, “Hey, we’re giving out clothes for free!”

RS: It was a little chilly, but we’re hoping that [at] the next event, there will be more people out walking around and it will be sunny and nice.

AG: We also had to move it because it was supposed to rain on Saturday, so ended up moving it to Sunday…but it went well overall. 

NM: What was the process like for organizing this event?

ZW: We set up boxes around campus first. We had four boxes. There was one in here [Korman], there was one in the Rush Building, the Main Building, and Stratton Hall. Some of them were missing, but we advertised where the boxes were on campus so that people would know where to drop off their items.

AG: We tried to give as much time as possible. The boxes were out there for like a month and literally, we grabbed them yesterday right before the event… We also got it from people just by talking to people… I was telling everybody for like a month and a half, like, “Hey, do you have any clothes?”

RF: I think advertising on Instagram as much as possible, and trying to get people to get to know us so they want to. And then we also included a QR code in our presentation. Yesterday, we got 100 followers, and today we have 115, so it’s growing very fast… It was difficult to organize just because it is such a small group. That’s why if we become an actual club and recruit people, it’ll be so much easier.

NM: It sounds like at this point, you don’t receive any support from Drexel. Do you hope to in the future?

AG: We’re hoping to become an official club and apply next quarter, because you can only apply during spring terms. So we are hoping to do that this upcoming quarter.

RF: Another cool thing on Instagram is like, we have so many actual Drexel clubs that follow us, so it’s almost like even though Drexel doesn’t see us, other clubs do… We didn’t know this was going to become a big thing as much as it has.

RS: We got a shoutout from a radio station.

ZW: I was genuinely surprised at how big it turned out. I was hoping it would become that, but for it to have actually happened is a completely different feeling.

NM: How do you hope to improve moving forward?

ZW: One thing that I thought of that would be really helpful is if we were able to get a room in the Rush Building and have a clothing rack in there, and then people could donate their clothes. We could put them up on a hanger, or we just leave them in the bins, and then everything is just in one place. I think that would make things a lot easier, to have everything in one place. And then, whenever we have an event, we would just bring everything from that room out onto  Lancaster Walk.

RF: Or an event inside.

RS: People can go in the bathroom, try stuff on, like fitting rooms and stuff.

ZW: That would be ideal.

RF: It would be really cool to have a place in the Rush Building because that’s the building for Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion… and that’s all about being gender inclusive and being diverse, and I think with thrifting and having it being free, it also helps people find clothes that match their gender identity. Because sometimes it’s too expensive and you can’t do that, so I feel like we can also collaborate with them.

AG: It’s also not as gendered either… It also helps with that a little bit, especially for those that struggle with gender dysphoria, or having to go to different male or female sections of clothing.

ZW: Having more people, having more of a variety of items, because a majority of the items we got were women’s clothing. So I think having just a more diverse array of clothes for people is great too.

RF: It’s cool to have feminine clothes and be a group that’s mainly women, but our thing is sustainable for everyone. We need other representations.

ZW: I think just like getting the word out, because people who don’t know about our Instagram, they don’t know about what’s happening. 

RS: Also would love to connect with the West Philadelphia community.

RF: Drexel’s whole thing is to give back to its surrounding community…Well, that’s sort of their mission statement, so why don’t we do that? We could be the group that does that.

RS: They want to market the fact that they have this giant biowall, and they’re sustainable. Well then, hey, Drexel Thrift, make it more accessible, make cheap options for clothes, give jackets to people who need them.

Drexel Thrift hopes to host more events, especially earlier within the upcoming terms, but are continuing to accept clothes at any time. Students can donate any non-clothing items, such as books, DVDs or cat items along with any washed items, including clothes and blankets. Event updates are available through their Instagram, @drexelthrift. Students can message them with any questions or to request help to transport donations to campus.