The U of L Free Store has now been open for one year, and although the room itself resembles a closet, the ideas behind it are global. The Free Store, founded on principles of sustainability, seeks to provide sustainable solutions on U of L’s campus.
“Sustainability is a great way to avoid waste in landfills,” said Justin Mog, assistant provost for sustainability initiatives.
The U of L Free Store, found in the basement of Unitas Tower, intends to do just that.
“There are so many clothes in this world already, and I know there is something in that Free Store that can fit me, that can look good and can fit any occasion,” said co-founder Laura Krauser. “A lot of times the most sustainable decisions you can make are extremely financially feasible, which is a great reason why the Free Store exist.”
“School is expensive, and many students find themselves in desperate situations, so having the free store is one way of keeping U of L affordable and accessible,” said Mog
In addition to carrying clothing, books and dinnerware, the Free Store recently added non-perishable goods to the growing inventory of items.
“We work with UofL Housing in many different ways, but one of them is with this initiative of non-perishable foods, because they had 2 or 3 reports of students that we’re struggling to keep food on the table,” said Krauser
Due to different meal plan arrangements, some students are unable to financially adjust. “It’s off and on-campus students,” she said, and it’s the reason that the Free store started collecting non-perishables.
As the weather changes, and winter approaches, the Free Store initiatives will be important to many U of L students. Besides providing a place to obtain items, the Free Store also accepts donations.
“Our Free Store donation hours are the same time as the shop hours, which is from 11-3 on Thursdays,” said Krauser. “We most recently just invested in a bin to keep outside of the Free Store, so that people can donate all the time, just so it is more accessible for people to donate.”
Looking to the future of the Free Store, possible space will be opening in the old gym in the Student Activities Center, which could allow for more space and better accessibility to the Free Store.
However, the more immediate need is more volunteer staff.
“Right now we only have 5 people, and could really benefit from a few extra people,” said Krauser.
Mog also expressed hope for future staff initiatives.
“It would be nice to see a possible work-study program take over and help evolve the free store,” said Mog.
The Free Store is considered to be a point of pride for the Sustainability Initiative on campus,
“Of course, I am thrilled that U of L students have taken the initiative to start a free store,” said Mog.
Photos by Laurel Slaughter / The Louisville Cardinal