The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Colgate Office of Sustainability Holds ‘Free Store’ Event

Colgate’s Office of Sustainability held its grand opening of the Colgate “Free Store” on Friday, Aug. 23. The Free Store is a regular event held by the Office of Sustainability in which students are invited to donate used goods and take up to five things they do not have to pay for. The Free Store offers merchandise such as clothing, school supplies, dorm decorations, mini-fridges, microwaves, small functional electronics and other useful items. Students are not required to donate in order to take home free items, but it is strongly encouraged.

An Instagram post from the Colgate Office of Sustainability (@colgatesust) details the types of items that visitors can donate. Students who wish to donate are advised not to leave goods outside of the Free Store during closed hours, and those who wish to donate food are instead encouraged to donate to local food pantries.

Senior Brenna McConnell, who worked as a 2022 Summer Sustainability Intern for the Colgate Office of Sustainability, detailed some of the project’s objectives.

Established through cross-campus collaboration, the Free Store is a resource that provides students with high-quality used goods in order to reduce landfill waste and to improve equitable access to dorm supplies, clothing and more,” McConnell said.

McConnell also expanded on the meaning of the Free Store to the Office of Sustainability.

“The Free Store is a massive achievement for the Office of Sustainability. It has been several years in the making, and leans on research from previous interns as well as the student project ‘Swap Shop’ that piloted the Free Store model on a smaller scale,” McConnell said. “It is a new way that we are looking to tackle the ever-growing problem of landfill waste created by Colgate’s campus and seeks to complement the Salvage Program by taking in donations throughout the year to avoid accumulation of items at the very end.”

Junior Charlie Tourbaf, a 2023 Summer Sustainability Intern, discussed the process of building the Free Store after the idea came about last summer.

“The idea of implementing a Free Store was proposed at the end of last summer, however, all of the logistical work of creating the store was done this past summer. The sustainability interns and I created a standard operating procedure, which specified hours of operation, inventory and donation processes, store marketing and branding strategy, and a few other things. After, the university’s administration reviewed our outline, they gave us the green light to set up the store in a room located in the Drake tunnel. We began moving, sorting, and inventorying items we had collected from the salvage program at the end of last semester,” Tourbaf said.

Junior Rachel Plasky, also a 2022 Summer Sustainability Intern, spoke about how the Free Store embodies environmentally-sustainable practices. 

“The Free Store helps to solve a lot of environmental issues tied to college life in general and Colgate in particular,” Plasky said. “One issue is that of excess […]. Often, the most convenient way to fix that problem is to throw stuff out, even if the items are still usable. Another issue is, ironically, people not having something they need, which results either in a drive to town (or further) or yet another online purchase in the package annex. Meanwhile, someone at Colgate has the spare hangers or spatula that person is looking for.”

The Free Store held a trial run before the majority of students arrived on campus to refine its process.

“At the end of the summer we hosted a test run of the store for OUS and international students, which went exceptionally well. Now the store is up and running,” Tourbaf said.

Plasky also shared advice with fellow students for their trips to the Free Store.

“I would suggest keeping a note on your phone of items you need to get and checking the Free Store before you make the journey to Price Chopper or Walmart,” Plasky said.“Also, consider keeping a bag or box of items you won’t use or don’t like anymore, and donate them to the Free Store during open hours!

Plasky also explained how she was able to utilize the Free Store:

“Personally, I’ve already benefited from the Free Store: during their grand opening, I was able to get some partially-used cleaning supplies for the cobwebs and dust my room had when I moved in, which was really convenient!”

Those who wish to volunteer to support the Free Store can email [email protected] to get started.

The Free Store will begin regularly running under the Drake Hall Tunnel on Tuesdays from 3:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Fridays from 2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., starting Sept. 5.

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