People look at items during the UI Environmental Coalition's Treasure Trade on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Tuesday, April 25, 2017. Shoppers can both donate and shop through the gently used clothing for free, in celebration of Earth Month. (The Daily Iowan/Lily Smith)

Cleary Walkway turns into ‘Treasure Island’


 By Charles Peckman

The T. Anne Cleary Walkway transformed into a thrift shop Tuesday for Treasure Trade, an opportunity for students to donate gently used clothing items in return for new items.

The Earth Month event, which was sponsored by the Office of Sustainability and UI Environmental Coalition, aimed to give clothing items students no longer wear a new home.

According to Environmental Protection Agency data,  Americans throw out 13 million tons of clothing every year. This staggering number accounts for 9 percent of all non-recycled waste.

The EPA also estimates that the average American throws out 70 pounds of textiles a year.

Although clothing excess is a problem, events such as Treasure Trade promote giving clothes a new home.

For students who did not get the opportunity to donate items to Treasure Trade, another event, “Donate, Don’t Dump,” at the end of the academic year will give students the opportunity to donate items and volunteer with item sorting during move out from the residence halls.

Eden DeWald, who works in the Office of Sustainability as an intern and helped organize the event, said the treasure trade is an opportunity for students to engage in sustainable clothing practices.

“[Treasure Trade] reaffirms the culture of sustainability,” DeWald said. “The Office of Sustainability set out boxes in our office and the residence halls at the beginning of April, and have emptied the boxes a few times throughout the month.”

She said the Treasure Trade helps alleviate the amount of material students choose to donate at the end of the year during the move out process.

UI student Sara Lettieri, who visited the “thrift store,” said she was impressed with the selection, and always tries to donate items rather than dispose them.

“There is a cycle of donating and buying new items,” Lettieri said. “That’s wasteful, and that’s why I always try to donate my clothing.”

As Lettieri went over the tables of T-shirts, pants, dresses, and accessories, her focus was drawn towards a gray Juicy Couture hoodie.

George McCrory, a communication specialist in the Sustainability Office, said he is always excited about the Treasure Trade.

McCrory complimented DeWald’s contributions to the event and praised the collaboration of the Sustainability Office and the UI Environmental Coalition.

“It’s fun for students to come and search through the donated items,” he said. “I like [Treasure Trade] because it’s another opportunity for items to stay out of the landfill — encouraging the reuse of items is an important part of sustainability.”

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