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University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students will have a chance to “shop” for free without leaving campus as part of a project that keeps clothing, housewares and bedding out of landfills. 

Clash Collective Pop-Up Thrift Shop returns from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 6 and 7 inside the Reeve Memorial Union concourse. 

Stacy Drewek shows off a few of the many donations that will be available at the Clash Collective Pop-Up Thrift Shop.

“UWO already has resources for food, hygiene and professional clothing, but what about everything else?” said Stacy Drewek, manager of New Student and Family Programs. “That is where our idea for the Clash Collective Thrift Shop came about.”

Donated items mostly collected from residence halls—items that might otherwise end up in dumpsters when students move out—are matched with other students looking for items they may need, including clothing, shoes and dorm room items.  

In 2023, just over 2,400 items were collected and the number this year will top well over 3,000 items. Donation stations were in residence halls and the Student Involvement Desk inside Reeve Union. Faculty and staff added their own donations to the effort. 

Helping students, helping environment  

New Student and Family Programs team members noticed that students are coming with basic needs insecurities. Drewek said the team is collaborating with Residence Life and Sustainability to help educate students about reusing items more and buying less. 

The Clash Collective initiative is a sustainable and convenient option available to all students regardless of financial need. 

“This effort was very successful last year and we are hoping it will be even more so, now that students know about it,” Drewek said. “We are hoping students will take advantage of the effortless process of donating gently used items they no longer are using rather than tossing them into a landfill.” 

A great deal of new and gently-used clothing, bedding and household decor is donated by students.

The project was recognized nationally last fall, earning the Innovative Program Award at the National Orientation Directors Assocation conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Brad Spanbauer, UWO sustainability director, said the idea of a campus-run thrift store is one that many universities operate, including several within Universities of Wisconsin. 

Spanbauer said keeping items out of the waste stream helps curb the university’s waste hauling costs. 

But another important aspect of this that people should consider, he adds, is their consumption habits and the effect on the environment. It’s why re-use offers great benefits.

“A cotton T-shirt will break down in the landfill relatively quickly (assuming it is not tied up in a plastic bag). But when we throw other items away that live a short life of usefulness to us, they can sit in a landfill for decades and remain virtually the same (if made of plastic)—all that embodied energy and carbon (to produce and ship it) has been wasted.” 

Learn more: 

Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations 

UWO Residence Life 

UWO New Student and Family Programs