Was that person wearing your lost sweater? Did a stranger just drink from your long-lost water bottle?
With the return of Western’s Lost and Found sale, those thoughts are more likely to arise than you’d think. After a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the sale returned, bringing a sustainable on-campus second-hand event taking place on Thursday, Jan. 26, in the Viking Union multipurpose room.
All items offered at the sale had been in the lost and found system for over 60 days. From hundreds of water bottles to clothing and even some electronics and accessories, students could find items priced at a high discount.
Any leftover items will be donated to local shelters; items that can’t be donated are brought to Salvation Army and other thrift stores.
“We're not in the business of throwing things away, as much as we can,” said Allijah Motika, VU information and welcome desk coordinator.
Motika said he feels that many people’s perceptions of a lost and found is a forgotten cardboard box under a desk.
“We're storing it safely; we're making sure it's clean and we're tagging it. We try to make it as easy as possible for somebody that lost something to be reunited with their stuff in the same conditions that it was turned in,” Motika said.
Doors opened for the sale at 11 a.m., but outside a line of people had already been waiting to begin their shopping. Through the doors, bins of water bottles covered three tables, with piles of shirts and sweatshirts filling other tables and tote bags hanging from a clothing rack on the far side of the room. Attendees wrapped around the tables waiting to check out.
“We lined up at like 10:40 a.m. because I was very prepared,” said fourth-year Western student Jordan De Lanoy. “But when they opened the doors, it was really just like a free-for-all.”
First-year Western student Mary Surdyk, an attendee at the sale, thinks having on-campus second-hand events are important as it allows students without transportation to thrift stores to gain access to inexpensive items.
“The kind of slogan we're living by for the sale is, ‘It's from students for students,’” Motika said.
Western’s Zero Waste Club believes in second-hand events and stores that bring together a community of like-minded people who share the common goal of reducing textile waste and upholding sustainable behaviors.
Sustainability events on campus like the lost and found sale are important to the environment as fashion factories contribute to 10%, or 1.2 billion tons, per year of carbon emissions, said Kait Schultz, Zero Waste Club’s co-coordinator.
“These connections are valuable for people’s well-being and finding others that share in their goals. It is very important to our environment because textile waste is a large environmental issue,” Schultz said.
The Zero Waste Club holds clothing swaps intending to create a circular system of clothing, thus keeping items out of landfills and saving students' funds.
Schultz said 92 million tons of textiles are wasted annually, with 85% going into the landfill.
At a clothing swap, attendees can bring clothes they don’t wear anymore for volunteers and employees to organize, and in exchange can take items others brought.
“I think it's really interesting seeing people being like ‘Oh, look at how cool this is,” De Lanoy said. “I probably wouldn't have liked that, but you know, to each their own.”
Ava Boorn (she/her), 21, is a second-year student at Western majoring in visual journalism with a minor in art history. Spends almost all her time practicing vinyasa yoga or continually collecting books.
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