When shopping as a college student, it’s easy to turn to fast fashion, which refers to the mass production of clothing at a low cost. While these options are usually convenient and cheap, they are not environmentally friendly because so much ends up in the landfill. It is possible to still find convenient and cheap options in stores around Columbia in a sustainable manner. Merriam-Webster defines “sustainable” as using a resource so that the resource is not depleted.
Shopping sustainably is looking out for the needs of the future while also meeting the needs of today. Students can practice this by buying clothes that aren’t fast fashion, or better yet, are second hand, meaning the clothing was previously owned.
It’s important to be environmentally conscious when shopping so that we can all do our part to help reduce clothing waste and overconsumption. For many college students, this means shopping at thrift stores and small, local businesses. We found the top places to do just this and broke it down according to our own criteria.
A 20-minute walk from campus, The Wardrobe is a great non-profit store for anyone shopping on a budget. With clothing racks stuffed full of all kinds of clothing, The Wardrobe has a large variety for students to pick from.
As an added bonus, most of their clothing is priced as low as 50 cents or $1. While name brand clothing will be priced higher, it’s still much lower than what students would find at a department store or the mall.
The store is only open to the public on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but it’s well worth it to make the trip.
All of the clothing sold at The Wardrobe is donated from the local community. The volunteers who work there sift through all donations to find the pieces that are sellable before putting them on the racks. A variety of clothing is donated to The Wardrobe, which ensures that shoppers will have much to choose from.
“It’s always an adventure when you open a [donated] bag,”Judi Pastorino, a volunteer at The Wardrobe, said. “Sometimes we just can’t believe [that] things, new with tags, are donated.”
The Wardrobe is also sustainable because not only do they sell second-hand clothes, but almost none of the donations end up in the landfill. When the clothing is unable to be sold, they send it to a store in St. Louis that repurposes the material..
Shoppers at The Wardrobe will not only find amazingly low prices, they will also be assured that they are lessening the amount of clothing being sent to landfills.
“Obviously there’s some benefit to the community,” Pastorino said. “It gives people an outlet to just not put all those black bags in their trash and have it go to landfill. They bring it here and it gets reused.”
In conclusion, The Wardrobe is sustainable and affordable for college students on a budget.
City of Refuge is a local non-profit organization designed to assist refugees that have settled in Columbia. Their resale shop, City Boutique, is located on north Garth Avenue, making it a five-minute drive from campus, or about a 20-minute walk. While it may be farther from campus, this shop is still worth a visit.
From games to old china sets to a plethora of clothing items, something is sure to catch your eye in the eclectic shop. If the items themselves do not, perhaps the prices will. Each item is about $4, and they have additional sales every week.
All of the proceeds go right back into City of Refuge’s fund to help assist refugees with their needs, including education, medical issues, finding homes, jobs and more. Moreover, every item in the store is donated with a few exceptions: the loose-leaf tea and the artisan jewelry.
City of Refuge’s staff makes the loose-leaf tea to represent the people of varying backgrounds that they assist, as tea is a beverage that spans across different cultures and countries.
“We are trying to bridge the gap with the clients that we serve and the community that they’re living in, in a way that is easily understandable,” City Boutique’s manager Kellye Dubinski said.
The jewelry is created by local artists who City of Refuge aids, and every cent made from these sales go directly to the artist.
“Many of these artisans have never had the opportunity to have a job [and] make money,” Dubinski said. “So this is really their opportunity to help supplement income for their families.”
Leo’s Old Clothes
Leo’s Old Clothes has been selling second-hand items in Columbia for almost 52 years. If you have the time to walk downtown and sort through all the items for sale, do not hesitate to go. It is an easy 12-minute walk from campus, located on Ninth St. just past Broadway Boulevard.
The store is filled to the brim with clothing pieces dating as far back as 100 years. The clothing comes from locations spanning the globe, including countries in the Middle East, Europe and across the United States.
Scott Palmero, the store’s current owner, loves that customers can find good quality vintage clothing at Leo’s Old Clothes.
“My favorite items are probably some of the vintage [items],” Palmero said. “We have some jackets in here that are probably from — I would say more or less things were from the British Empire.”
The store also takes pride in making new items from old material. According to Palmero, there are hats for sale that are made in the shop from old materials — talk about sustainability!
As for the price, the clothing was tagged fairly according to the quality and rarity of the item. Most items averaged around $4 to $10 while name brands were priced around $30 to $45. This could easily fit into a college budget if you are looking for unique vintage finds.
Sustainability: 7 /10
With its pink walls and vintage window displays in downtown Columbia, Maude Vintage is hard to miss. Only a 15-minute walk from campus, this is the place to be for anyone looking for high-quality, vintage pieces to add to their closet.
The store gives each decade their own section throughout their three stories, so shoppers can easily access vintage items from almost any time period in the last century. By simply walking through the store’s floor plan, shoppers are transported from the ‘80s to the ‘60s in just a few steps.
The prices here are steeper than other thrift stores in Columbia, but the quality and guaranteed vintage authenticity of the pieces makes up for it. The store’s manager, Sabrina Garcia-Rubio, buys all of her clothes from either local sellers or from various estate sales across the country.
Although the price of the clothing may be expensive, the store understands that students usually buy on a budget.
Fast fashion poses a threat to sustainability and local shopping, and Maude Vintage wants to remain a place where students and other shoppers are encouraged to buy locally instead of online. Almost all of their pieces are second-hand, so sustainability levels are also huge here.
“It is the most fair price you can get authentic vintage [clothing items], gearing more towards students,” Maude Vintage employee Dayton Gerren said. “We are also trying to create a shopping experience that is understandable. I feel like a lot of students shop mostly fast fashion. So I’m trying to help emulate moments of that in our store to get people to understand that, but I think we have a fair budget for what we have to offer.”
Columbia Farmers’ Market
The Columbia Farmers Market has been providing residents with fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, jewelry and more since 1980. The market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, April through October and 9 a.m. to noon November through March. It is two miles off of campus, meaning it’s a ten-minute drive for students. This is, however, one of the only inconveniences for students.
Once students arrive at the farmers market, they will be able to shop at vendors who are from the state of Missouri — the farthest coming from 50 miles away. At the market, vendors harvest their produce at most two days before they sell it.
The price for most items fluctuates because each vendor determines the cost of their own items. The prices usually end up being almost identical or slightly higher than those that students would find in a grocery store.
The atmosphere of the farmers market is also a huge draw for students. Students can go on a Saturday morning with friends and family and try new foods and produce, often with live music in the background.
“The number one thing [students will] discover is how fun it is,” Jon Weekly, the farmers market’s assistant manager, said. “This has become the go-to spot every Saturday.”
Supporting local vendors is extremely important to help reduce pollution when it comes to transporting food. By shopping at the Columbia Farmers Market, students can help local vendors stay in business and incorporate fresh foods into their diet.
“People don’t realize most of the food in the grocery store comes on average [from] over 1500 miles — it’s transported and uses gas to stay fresh,” Weekly said. “ And there’s just a lot of unhealthy practices that go on.”
Bailey & Blush Boutique
Bailey & Blush Boutique — located on Broadway Boulevard between Ninth and 10th St. — is a darling women’s clothing shop that is less than a 15-minute walk from campus. Stocked with tons of cute sweaters and pants, the clothing style of the boutique is “chic.” With this style of clothing, however, comes a hefty price tag.
Many clothing items were priced around $50 to $60. While the clothing is notably high quality, the prices of the clothing may be unreasonable for a typical college budget. According to Lauren Bailey, the owner of Bailey & Blush Boutique, these prices are set for a reason.
“[Students] obviously want a fun, nice downtown experience, and you have to feed [small] businesses if you want them to stay here,” Bailey said, referring to the support required from patrons.
Local shops such as this one are important to maintaining the personalized feeling that downtown Columbia evokes, so perhaps this is a good store to keep in mind the next time you want to treat yourself.
In terms of sustainability, Bailey & Blush Boutique sells wholesale clothing, meaning the clothing is sold in bulk to retailers at a cost that is lower than the retail price. Because of this, it is not the most sustainable option, as the items are not reused or recycled.
Edited by Annie Goldman | email@example.com
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