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Duke students embrace sustainability and style at Devil’s Thrifthouse

Nearly 900 used items found a new home among Duke students last week at the Devil’s Thrifthouse. 

Organized as a collaboration between Sustainable Duke, Duke Fashion Exchange and East Campus Council, the Devil’s Thrifthouse is a sustainability project that allows students to donate gently used clothing and develop their own wardrobes in the process. Its goal was to encourage the recycling of unwanted items and to discourage buying fast fashion items that would lead to unnecessary waste, according to sophomore Felicia Wang, an organizer. 

Before the Thrifthouse opened at 11 a.m. on Thursday, a line stretched from Penn Pavilion to the Gothic Bookstore. Inside were items that organizers had retrieved from donation bins scattered around West Campus. Thrifters could leave with up to three pieces. 

On its first day, the event was supposed to run until 6 p.m. The Thrifthouse ended up having to close its doors three hours early when they ran out of items. The event saw over 400 customers in two days. 

“It was really exciting,” Wang said. “I was very nervous because we were still trying to organize it and put everything together when the people started lining up. And so we had a queue of about 50 people, and I was still scrambling.”

For Wang and co-organizer Michelle Ling, a sophomore, who had been planning the event since August, the turnout felt like a sign that their hard work had paid off. As Green Devil interns at Sustainable Duke, the two had teamed up to organize their own project. 

In planning the event, Ling and Wang’s biggest obstacle was getting the word out. Though the Thrifthouse had taken place on campus before, they found that many students didn’t even know what it was.

The organizers spread the word through marketing on Instagram and tabling in Bryan Center Plaza. Their efforts were so successful that they had to empty out the donation bins multiple times a week. Garments that didn’t leave with students were donated to TROSA, a Durham-based organization that helps rehabilitate individuals with substance disorders. 

First-year Sophie Yost showed up to the Thrifthouse after hearing about it from a friend and was impressed by the selection present. Even though she didn’t go early, she was still able to find something to keep — a pair of red pants — a choice she feels good about, not just for style, but for sustainability.

“I love that we're able to get clothes that have already been worn [and] can use them for our wardrobe,” Yost said. “And we make [these clothes] our own in a way that's not bad for the environment.”

Among college students, Yost noted that pressures to dress nicely can lead to overconsumption, especially with the presence of fast fashion. But the Thrifthouse presented a good opportunity for students to get involved and find unique clothing, according to Yost and Ling. 

“I feel like I'm doing meaningful work,” Ling said. “I feel like I definitely am contributing to more sustainability on campus. And also encouraging other students to also start thinking about … how to become more sustainable in your personal lifestyle.”

Olivia Kim profile
Olivia Kim | Staff Reporter

Olivia Kim is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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