One Pirate’s Trash is Another Pirate’s Treasure
Southwestern’s first permanent, free, student-run exchange store, the Treasure Chest, is open for business and accepting donations. Bring in your gently used clothing, dishware, books, jewelry, electronics, appliances, shoes, and miscellaneous items to exchange for coins. The Treasure Chest will keep track of the amount of coins you earn and spend.
“The Treasure Chest combats ‘fast fashion,’” EcoRep Nafisa Nazeer said. “The Treasure Chest is less exploitative and more environmentally friendly.”
According to Sustainability Coordinator Veronica Johnson, “the Treasure Chest is not an original idea, but a revived idea.”
“The Treasure Chest was always something I had envisioned for the school,” EcoRep Nissi Frutos-Ramos said. “The idea of a pop-up thrift store was mentioned in H.E.A.T. I always thought the idea was pretty cool.”
Frutos-Ramos brought the idea to her EcoRep team.
“I thought, why not set up a permanent thrift store?” Frutos-Ramos said. “That solves so many issues. Items don’t have to leave this campus. People don’t have to drive out of their way to buy clothes or spend money on items they won’t use.”
This summer, Sustainability Coordinator Veronica Johnson came across a flyer from Dr. Alicia Moore’s business capstone from Spring 2017.
“The Attic was open for about a month,” Johnson said. “The idea died when the students graduated. I thought it would be a great thing to bring back.”
Unlike the Treasure Chest, The Attic was based on a first-come-first-serve basis. Instead of using coins or store credits, students merely traded their used, unwanted items.
“The Attic was more of a direct exchange,” Johnson said. “We implemented a coin system to incentivize people. We were opposed to having a free-for-all.”
Similar to The Attic, the Treasure Chest, which is run by the EcoReps, values sustainability.
“It’s frustrating to see all of the perfectly good items go to waste after move-out,” Johnson said. “Just because you’re done with an item doesn’t mean its life is over. As a campus, our goal is to be zero waste, increasing our diversion from landfills.”
Johnson said she wanted the Treasure Chest to become “as permanent and well-known as Korouva.”
“Mundy is mostly used for storage and surplus furniture,” Johnson said. “The space is only available as long as the university doesn’t need to use it during renovations. Part of our long-term vision is to settle in a more permanent location.”
Frutos-Ramos wants to apply for a Green Fund grant to promote and professionalize the Treasure Chest.
“Currently, our biggest challenge is advertising for the Treasure Chest,” Frutos-Ramos said. “We want the community to know more about it. A lot of people still don’t know it exists.”
Frutos-Ramos also has goals to make the Treasure Chest more convenient.
“We want the point system already established to be accounted for on Pirate Cards,” Frutos-Ramos said. “People could use their Pirate Cards to swipe and keep track of their points. Also, we want to be open Monday through Thursday. We’re still determining what works best for the general public.”
Besides donating, students can also earn coins by attending EcoRep events and other sustainable activities.
“The point is, it’s a free store, so everyone should be able to use it,” Frutos-Ramos said. “We try to be very flexible.”
The store is run by EcoReps who are student representatives from each residence hall working to spread awareness about sustainability on campus. The Sustainability Office is hiring new EcoReps for the Spring semester. Applications are due by midnight on Sun., Dec. 1.
“Being an EcoRep is really fun,” Nazeer said. “I’m an Environmental Studies minor, and I want to pursue sustainability in the future. It’s a good way for people to participate in something that helps them become more aware of how their choices affect the environment.”
Frutos-Ramos said anyone can apply to be an EcoRep.
“EcoReps get paid to promote the Treasure Chest: to come up with ideas, advertising, and marketing,” Frutos-Ramos said. “You don’t just have to be interested in Environmental Studies.”
The Treasure Chest is located on the second floor of the Joe S. Mundy Hall. It is open Monday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Frutos-Ramos encourages other organizations to get in touch with her or Johnson about doing a collaborative event with or raising money for the Treasure Chest.
“We need help to keep this going,” Frutos-Ramos said. “It was a great idea, but now we’re missing engagement from the community. It’s small right now, but I can totally see it becoming a big thing and part of the culture at Southwestern.”