St. Olaf College | News

Ole Thrift Shop combines entrepreneurship, sustainability

OleThriftShop300x200Combining the spirit of entrepreneurship with efforts to increase campus sustainability, a group of St. Olaf College students is using a grant from the Piper Center for Vocation and Career to create the Ole Thrift Shop.

The “shop” will take items that students might otherwise throw or recycle as they move out of the residence halls this spring and will sell them during a campus-wide event this fall. Proceeds from the sale will support other environmentally sustainable projects on campus as well as several local organizations.

The students organizing the project — Sudip Bhandari ’14, Lyla Amini ’14, Corey Ruder ’16, and Emily Hoar ’16 — hope the Ole Thrift Shop will reduce the waste generated by student residential life. Bhandari says he was inspired to get involved in the project after seeing the amount of clothes, electronics, and other materials thrown in the dumpsters at the end of the academic year.

An Ole Thrift Shop collection box in Mellby Hall is already gathering donations.
An Ole Thrift Shop collection box in Mellby Hall is already gathering donations.

“Most of the things seemed to be new and working,” he says. “I did not understand why there was no systematic way of managing those items.”

The team is collecting donations through May 27 in large boxes that have been set up in each of the residence halls and honor houses, as well as other high-traffic areas on campus. They will then sell the items at a campus-wide event September 6.

The group’s efforts are supported by a $3,000 entrepreneurial grant from the Piper Center. After a smaller pilot run of the project last year that was led by Duy Ha ’14, the committee expects that the Ole Thrift Shop will hit the ground running this year.

The Ole Thrift Shop committee members believe that their interdisciplinary backgrounds will help this event reach its fullest potential. While Bhandari in interested in implementing social change through entrepreneurship, Amini aims for change in the environmental and social implications of perpetuated waste production, Ruder is fascinated by the environmental and economic backdrops to wasteful habits, and Hoar provides administrative support to the group through her interest in marketing and design.

“Through our collaborative effort in creating this project, we feel that we have a well-rounded, innovative effort to put forth, and one that considers many of the different implications of waste production by students on campus,” says Bhandari.

While they hope the event will eventually reach out to the larger community, the committee is adamant that the Ole Thrift Shop is a project for students right now. “Everyone has a say about how they want to live, but at the same time, we have to think about our actions and how those actions impact our environment,” Bhandari says. “By choosing to reuse through donation, students can give back to St. Olaf.”