Thrift Club promotes sustainable fashion on MSU’s campus

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Sophie Champion wearing a thrifted outfit. Photos Bella Short

Have you ever struggled to figure out what to wear or get bored of your closet? If you want to look unique from other people, MSU Thrift Club is a good alternative to ordering online from fast fashion companies. At a thrift trip, Meredith Bell, a third-year student studying zoology and vice president of the club, discussed how it can be difficult to thrift at college.

“A big thing when you first get to campus is not having a car, and not being able to get anywhere at all and there’s not a whole lot to do walking distance-wise,” Bell said. “So for the most part, we facilitate carpools and different things to different thrift stores around the Lansing area and also outside of the Lansing area.”

Thrift Club provides an opportunity for students to get out of their comfort zone and meet people who have similar interests. They will host swap meets throughout the year where students can come and get some new clothes or get rid of old clothes, without having to leave campus.

Earrings and necklace from a thrift store.

“I feel like it’s super easy for students, especially on campus, to just buy fast fashion and buy whatever is trendy,” said Thrift Club President Liz Fisher. “We give them an opportunity to carpool and buy something a little more sustainable and a little more unique which I think is fun.”

Fashion is an important part of human expression. Sophie Champion, a Thrift Club member, said in high school that she hated getting dressed in the morning because she knew that what she was wearing wasn’t her. But thrifting is the reason she found her style, and her closet is now predominantly thrifted.  

“You go into a thrift store and there’s piles on piles of clothes, racks and racks, like, you have to sift through things and you have to know what you’re looking for, know what you want,” Champion said. “It’s not served up to you on a model, or something trendy at a store, like you have to really know what you want.” 

Knitted sweater and gold tank from a vintage store.
Purse from Volunteers of America in Lansing.

Thrift stores are an accessible and affordable option for many people looking for alternatives to fast fashion. Brands like Shein and Temu are well-known for their wasteful supply chain practices. In places like France, according to CNN, approved a bill that will penalize fast fashion companies. The bill aims to help France offset their environmental impact by increasing penalties of up to $11 per individual item of clothing by 2030 and banning advertising for such products. 

“It makes your clothes more unique, so you’re not like the normal black top, blue jean combo that you see all over campus,” Bell said. “It just gives you like a little edge […] even though Shein’s like $7, you don’t have to pay that and you also don’t have to have that guilt. The Shein guilt. It’s a real thing. We like to minimize that as much as possible.” 

People order from fast fashion companies because of the cheap prices and fast shipping, but at Thrift Club swap meets students don’t have to leave campus and can find vintage pieces. Students can also make money at swap meets by trading their clothes and stop their closets’ from overflowing.

“One of them I made over $100 and that was crazy,” Champion said. “I don’t know how, I think there’s just a lot of people there randomly and I also just had like a ton of things which helped. I maybe sold like, 20% of the items I brought, but I brought so many that I started bringing more stuff to each one.”

Jeans from a Thrift Club swap meet.

At thrift trips, the club will travel to different thrift stores in the Lansing area like Volunteers of America and Goodwill, but they will also travel to Grand Rapids or Ann Arbor. Champion encourages students to join Thrift Club to meet fashionistas like herself.

“If you have like a huge closet, like I do and want to make some money off of it, if you want to go trade some stuff, or if you want to go accumulate cool clothes by going on thrift outings, […] it exposes you to different places and different types of thrift stores and like a ton of cool people,” Champion said.

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