The Williams YDSA and Williams Mutual Aid are thrilled to announce the opening of a student free store in Goodrich Hall’s Wightman room! This space functions as a place for students to drop off and pick up used clothes, school supplies, household items (and other hard goods) of usable conditions that they no longer need or want. It is based on donations, and all of the available items are free.
For many years, students and staff at the Zilkha Center have been discussing potential options for introducing circular systems to reduce waste, packaging and transportation emissions on campus. Those options have ranged from seeking to obtain space for a campus surplus property system to launching a student-facing convenient store. The new space opening in Goodrich – also in partnership with the Zilkha Center and CLiA – is similarly a circular system, designed not only to reduce campus waste, but to combat barriers to accessing many of these necessary goods and products for students.
We have selected the Wightman room as our venue in partnership with the student leaders of Goodrich Coffee Bar and the Office of Campus Life because of its central location and because it is a hub of student life. Goodrich is a warm, well trafficked space where students spend time together, eat, and work, morning, noon and night. This means that our free store space will be visible, accessible and well used. The space is open during the hours of the day that Goodrich the building is open. Instructions for putting away donations are listed in the space. We accept all clothing/shoes, school supplies, unused hygiene products and nonperishable unopened food items, linens and household items – though we ask that donations on behalf of campus departments are not bulk quantities of leftover SWAG and materials.
Ultimately, the goal of this space is to change the culture on campus surrounding waste and introduce a new mode of thinking about unused goods that incentivizes exchange between community members rather than disposal. We hope that this space helps create a culture of self-sufficiency and community care. We have worked together with Mutual Aid to bring this project to fruition and fully align with its values. We believe that we can, through community, meet each other’s needs.
Another goal is to partner with other student organizations to stock the space with things like period products, personal hygiene items, dryer sheets, etc. and move towards something like a campus community store model. Williams is generous in its financial aid, including the book and personal expense grants, but hygiene items, like period products and toothbrushes, should be more accessible and ultimately free. Making the items available in a student centric space would help make Williams a more equitable campus and community. We are also especially excited to think about how we can move beyond the Williams campus to provide an exchange space for the larger community.
Coco Rhum ’24 is a former Zero Waste intern with the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives at Williams College.