HUNTINGTON — Have you ever wondered what happens to all those things Marshall University students leave behind while moving out of their rooms?
Marshall University President Dr. Jerome Gilbert says every year when students leave the residence halls, many of them leave clothing, shoes, furnishings and other items behind.
“These items end up in a landfill,” Gilbert said. “However, thanks to the Marshall’s Sustainability Department that will no longer be the case.”
On Friday, Gilbert joined other Marshall officials to cut the ribbon on the new university thrift store for students.
The new thrift store is located at 331 Hal Greer Boulevard in Huntington, just across the street from the campus, and is the latest initiative by the Sustainability Department to reduce waste on campus.
Marshall University’s sustainability manager, Amy Parsons-White, says the store is beneficial because it allows students to donate items instead of throwing them away. She said the new store helps alleviate student needs by providing access to items at a reduced cost throughout the semester.
Sarah-Frances Lyons, Marshall’s assistant director of academic initiatives with Housing and Residence Life, said students may purchase a reusable bag to fill with items for a flat rate of $3.
“Each return trip with the same bag is only $1,” she said. “The only payment accepted is Herd Points, which is accessible through a student ID badge or identification number.”
Lyons said this initiative is all about believing in the success of students and working to help them achieve their goals.
“Many students come to college and believe the only cost associated with it is what’s on their bill, but there are many hidden costs to higher education,” she said. “Not being able to physically get to class because it’s 20 degrees outside and they don’t have a winter coat should not be what stops them from pursuing their academic endeavors.”
Lyons said the first “Green Move Out” event, which was a donation drive sponsored by Housing and Residence Life, helped reduce the waste haul at move out by as much as 50%.
Parsons-White said the mission of the Sustainability Department is to create programs that follow the triple bottom line.
“This means to be truly sustainable, a program must include environment, economy and social equity,” she explained. “This program hits all three marks by reducing landfill-bound waste, reducing the need for fast fashion and offering items at little to no cost to our students, while making a profit for the university.”
Beginning on Monday, Sept. 13, the store will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“We are hoping to get more donations,” said Logan Poynter, a Marshall graduate who will be the store’s manager.
Donations can be taken directly to the store on the last Monday of every month, he said.
In addition to student donations, the store will also take donations from the community on that day as well.
“We want the community to donate smart, so if they have stuff they feel should go to Goodwill then we want them to take it to them, but if they have a Marshall sweatshirt or flag or stuff like that then we would love to have it,” Lyons said.
Gilbert added that Marshall will open the second-largest university compost facility on the East Coast this fall.
“We will be composting all of our food waste and paper waste to make the university more sustainable,” he said. “I signed a commitment to make Marshall plastic-free by 2026, which will be another great step in sustainability at Marshall.”
To learn more about the MU Sustainability Department, visit https://www.marshall.edu/sustainability/.