According to the US EPA Office of Solid Waste, Americans throw away more than 68lbs of clothing and textiles person person each year, which represents 4% of the municipal solid waste stream. Only 15% of discarded clothing is collected and prevented from entering directly into the waste stream. The Rescue Mission Thrift Project at TCNJ began with a simple idea and a big vision: reduce clothing waste while creating a market for thrift items on campus.
Soon, this idea and vision was transformed into a full-fledged social entrepreneurship project by Bonner Scholars. These Bonner Scholar Entrepreneurs are supporting the Rescue Mission of Trenton by selling the Mission Store’s items to a niche market – the campus community – and donating the profits back to the Rescue Mission. Bonners are also working with the President’s Climate Commitment Committee(PC3) to build a greener college community. The eco-friendly initiative will launch an on-campus thrift store and donation center connected to the Rescue Mission Store.
The purpose of the project is to:
- Advocate for sustainability by reducing waste;
- Support the local community by donating to the Rescue Mission of Trenton;
- Educate and serve the needs of the college community; and
- Create community engaged learning opportunities for TCNJ students.
Currently, Bonners are working with TCNJ to develop a plan for a permanent space, but in the meantime Scholars are launching several pop-up shops in the Student Center this year. The thrift store will be affordable and exciting for TCNJ students; you never know what you could find – a brand new flannel shirt, a neon 80s jacket, notebooks from Thailand or classic records!
TCNJ will join many other colleges and universities across the nation who have successfully introduced on-campus thrift stores with similar charitable missions. By promoting community engaged learning and reducing waste, along with nurturing a social entrepreneurship spirit, Bonner Scholar Entrepreneurs aim to bring something new, trendy and exciting to TCNJ.