Looking good and giving back with the Magpie Thrift Store

Elizabeth Vaughan

The Magpie Thrift Store, one of Lawrence University’s newest recognized organizations on campus, opened its doors in Warch Campus Center for the first time this year. Opening once a term for three days at a time, the organization installed several boxes at the entrance of Warch for students to deposit gently used clothes, jewelry, books room decorations or anything that could be reused.

The goods were sold from 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on the second floor of Warch. Previously a subsidiary organization of Greenfire, The Magpie Thrift Store derives its name from the magpie bird, an animal who builds its nests from found objects, creating a beautiful home from scavenged scraps.

Not only does the thrift store benefit students in need of clothing or supplies, but the proceeds go towards a cause that thrift store volunteers and members vote on. Usually the causes are related to water preservation or local land conservation groups, such as the Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust or My Water. This year, Charity Water, a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, was selected. The Magpie Thrift Store’s goal is to raise enough money to build a well in a location of their choice.

“Thrifting helps eliminate many of the environmental and humanitarian problems around the world. I’ve never seen a problem with such a simple solution that doesn’t harm anybody,” says Chelsea Johnson, education coordinator of the Magpie Thrift Store. “A single t-shirt takes 573 gallons of water to make.”

Although it is difficult to envision the correlation between clothing and water consumption, avoiding purchasing new clothes when unnecessary makes a visible difference. Not only does thrifting conserve resources, but it helps clean up the earth a bit; Americans throw away two quadrillion pounds of used clothing a year, often still in good condition.

Thrift stores benefit the community and human rights overseas. Organizations such as Goodwill aim to provide meaningful employment to local citizens. Avoiding consuming clothes from stores such as Forever 21 shows a conscious stance against some of the store’s agenda, which include child labor and racial discrimination in their work force.

In addition, thrift stores offer a creative outlet to students for a low price. Clothes that are purchased from thrift stores are usually one-of-a-kind and are durable, due to the fact that they have already been “broken in.” Thrift stores can be used for Halloween costumes or other special outfits.

The Magpie Thrift Store also seeks to administer workshops related to the consumption of used clothing. Do It Yourself workshops such as how to repair clothing at home or how to decorate clothing are being planned. The Thrift Store also hopes to introduce a fashion show displaying thrifted clothes.

If you are interested in the coordination or planning of any of these events, contact Hannah Plummer.

Used clothing has many benefits. According to Cori Lin, head of publicity for the Magpie Thrift Shop, “Clothing that can’t be used anymore can be recycled and used to make paper. Used cotton can be used by the Studio Art Department for printmaking projects. Used clothing can also be given to organizations such as Goodwill and be sold to industries as polishing cloths or rags.”

Remarked Johnson, “My biggest advice to students would be to have them realize that thrifting shouldn’t just be a one time event. Anybody can thrift.”