The St. Thomas community now has an additional opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable campus thanks to the launch of Tommie’s Closet, a campuswide clothing swap system in Anderson Student Center (ASC).

Tommie's Closet in the Anderson Student Center on March 17, 2021 in St. Paul. Tommie's Closet is a student-led clothing exchange, created by Ashoka Changemaker students, focused on community and sustainability.Every year, the textile industry accounts for over 92 million tons of clothing waste. In an effort to raise awareness of the harmful effects clothing can have on our planet, Tommie’s Closet offers a solution that is both fashionable and sustainable for the St. Thomas community. Tommie’s Closet is fully based on donations. Students and faculty are encouraged to bring their pre-loved items to blue donation bins and log the number of items they donated. Items that once may have been tossed out now have the chance to be reused and recycled for other Tommies to claim for themselves. For every item someone donates to Tommie’s Closet, they are able to take one item in return. The idea of a swap system gives an eco-friendly alternative to shopping fast fashion as well as giving opportunities to those who may be looking for an inexpensive way to shop.

Tommie’s Closet was inspired by what seems to be a new movement among young adults toward vintage and secondhand shopping. Buying secondhand has always been both an affordable and sustainable option, but the term “thrifting” has become a fresh new way to shop trend and find pieces uniquely catered to one’s wardrobe.

Co-founders Morgan Ronsen, left, and Payton Filipiak, right, at Tommie's Closet in the Anderson Student Center on March 17, 2021 in St. Paul. Tommie's Closet is a student-led clothing exchange, created by Ashoka Changemaker students, focused on community and sustainability.

Tommie’s Closet co-founders Morgan Ronsen, left, and Payton Filipiak.

Ashoka U Changemaking Fellows Morgan Ronsen ’23 and Payton Filipiak ’23 capitalized on this movement and wanted to bring a twist to St. Thomas that would make the excitement of secondhand shopping more accessible to those on campus every day.

“I chose to be a part of Tommie’s Closet because I think there is so much fun to be had when shopping secondhand,” said Ronsen. “My favorite part is knowing that there is always a story behind each item we’ve received. So many students and staff have contributed to Tommie’s Closet and it has been wonderful watching those who have shopped the closet leave with a big smile on their face knowing that they are bringing something home that is both sustainable and stylish.”

After months of planning and collecting donations, Tommie’s Closet launched March 1 in the Anderson Student Center, Room 234. Tommie’s Closet is open from noon-4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through the end of March. Donations also are accepted in the create[space].

“We’re always happy to support innovative student projects in the ASC, and are proud of the work of these two student leaders,” said Kevin Manson, director of the Anderson Student Center, who was a partner in the planning and execution of Tommie’s Closet.

“Sustainability holds great importance to the University of St. Thomas through its mission to advance the common good. As a university, we continue to gain a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our world, and work toward solutions to better our community as both students and leaders,” said Manuela Hill-Muñoz, director of innovation and changemaking. “The launch of Tommie’s Closet offers a different perspective to tackling our climate crisis, proving that sustainability can be both fun and fashionable. Tommie’s Closet also serves a greater mission at the Center for the Common Good. It equips students with the opportunities to make a difference by participating in something that can make our campus a better place. Change starts with one person, and Tommie’s Closet shows that perhaps even one donation can make a difference.”

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