Students in Sustainability: Managing a Pop-up Thrift Shop

By: Denali Selent

Halie White is a Miami University Individualized Studies and Philosophy double major who has also found time to participate in various engaging clubs and activities on campus. Halie, a junior, manages the Pop-up Thrift Shop run by Zero Waste Oxford, is a student associate in the Western Program Student Center and is the Vice President of Kappa Alpha Delta, a sociology honors society. When not doing these activities, Halie enjoys hiking, crafting (a wonderful means of reusing and repurposing items) and tending to her house plants. I had the chance to interview her for our ongoing Students and Sustainability series: read on to learn more about Halie and her campus impact! 


How did your environmental journey begin? 

“I have always been super close to nature when I grew up, spending a lot of time outdoors. As I began to take philosophy courses and hike a lot at the time, I began to reflect on the ways in which the individual feels in regards to his or her environment. We tend to feel separation as an individual from a world that seems outside ourselves, but there are many cultures and philosophic systems which support a harmonious intimacy and codependency between our self and the environment. Having a love for nature and being in social justice courses, I found so much passion to get involved on campus. I found Zero Waste Oxford in its first year on campus and became involved near the end of last spring. The thrift store was the first thing I really became involved with through the club after attending the Students for Zero Waste conference. This is where the idea for the shop arose among the executive team members at the time. When they graduated and passed down the project, they asked me to be the thrift store manager, and I was more than excited to take on the role. I love thrifting and second hand fashion immensely: at the time, I even owned my own thrift resale business through Instagram!”



The Zero Waste Oxford pop-up thrift shop in Armstrong Student Center.


Why are thrift shops and second hand shopping so beneficial for the environment? 

“Thrifting is so beneficial for the environment in two major ways: not only are you saving articles of clothing and other goodies you find in thrift stores from just being dumped into the landfill, but you are reducing the use of resources, energy and textile waste that come with buying into the fast fashion industry. We do not often think about all the energy and work that goes into the process of making a single article of clothing. We simply take it at face value and see the shirt or pants, etc. that is in question. I also refer to the fact that it takes 2,700+ liters of water to create a single t-shirt: I was so shocked when I found this out. There are not many actions that address both sides of the coin, reducing the waste that feeds our landfill and reducing the energy and resources used by choosing more sustainable shopping habits, in such a dramatic way. There are so many great options in perfectly good condition in secondhand shops, but many people do not realize it. This type of shopping  also makes you cherish the item more because thrifting is somewhat of a treasure hunt and there aren’t many items that are the same in thrift stores, which makes it more unique to you and your style.” 


How do you hope to expand the thrift store in the future?

“We are looking to start selling various Zero Waste beauty products and other items. During our last thrift store pop-up, we had some sugar scrubs and toothpaste for sale that members from our executive board made. We have plans to expand this to lip balms, cloth bags, scrunchies, and more! We want to not only promote giving new life to perfectly usable products and clothing, but also communicate about how to reduce your personal waste beyond just the fast fashion industry. So many beauty products come in plastic containers and are a huge contributor to plastic waste. Providing these products package-free for our customers may get them interested in making their own and continuing to reduce their personal waste in other ways beyond this. Striving toward zero waste is intimidating at first, but this may be a way to get started.” 


How do you hope to continue having a positive impact on our environment after college? 

“I want to continue to educate others about how to reduce waste while carrying what I have learned into my future University or work setting. I feel I have a lot of room for growth, so the best way I can continue my efforts is by continuing to educate myself so that my actions and intentions can better educate others. I find that I have impacted others more through indirect actions. Just by going about my day as zero waste as I know how, others see my actions and either stop and think about it and compare it to their own, or ask me about it. As far as global impact and political or activist efforts go, this has always been a challenge for me and one I hope to continue to get more involved in and learn from the example of others. It’s a process that never truly ends. We can always be doing more and striving to be better.”



Responses adapted from written communication with Halie White

All photos courtesy of Halie White


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