Filled with vintage clothes, hand-made products, and roughly 500 students,Thrift Cal Poly hosted their sustainability market on April 22 in celebration of Earth Day.
Starting at the Sequoia Lawn and expanding to the recently-opened Plant Conservatory, Thrift Cal Poly brings sustainability efforts to campus.
Journalism sophomore and founder and president of Thrift Cal Poly, Eve Stewart, started the club her freshman year at Cal Poly. She and her friends began selling thrifted items on the Sequoia lawn in front of their residential community and eventually this concept grew into a full-fledged club.
“We try to bring the thrift store to campus instead of the students to the thrift stores. That way it’s really accessible to freshmen and anyone living on campus,” Stewart said.
Stewart says that the club draws a variety of vendors.
“30 to 40 sometimes more venders that are all entrepreneurs that have sustainably sourced and produced products,” Stewart said. “Ranging from curated vintage to ceramics to jewelry, to people with services like tarot and henna and really so much more.”
Thrift Cal Poly focuses on sustainability while encouraging students to be conscious consumers and producers. “With the climate crisis, one of the things we constantly hear is how we can be conscious consumers,” Steward said. “And while that’s really important to consider, I think it’s even more impactful to consider how we can be conscious producers.”
Stewart says that the market strives to support local businesses while keeping the environment in mind.
“We want to support local small student run businesses, we want to support sustainability and saving the planet and we want to support learning by doing. And we’re doing that through hosting these events,” Stewart said.
Owner of Dale Morenx Dayane Zuniga crafts her own jewelry with beans, corn and other plants — from her garden to the market.
Her business started in 2020 after losing her job when the pandemic hit. However, her bills were still piling on. Inspiration struck that would both help pay off her bills as well as incorporate her creativity.
“I was sitting one day in the garden and then this bean specifically called out to me,” Zuniga said. “And I was just like, ‘Wow, I think I can make those into jewelry.’”
While turning plants into jewelry can prove to be a challenge, Zuniga says that each plant has its own personality.
“I like the way that they kind of tell me if they want to be jewelry or not,” Zuniga said. “If I’m working on them and they crumble, then I know they don’t want to be made into jewelry or sometimes they don’t want a charm…So I like how they have a little personality into them, a little essence of themselves.”
Whether students choose to start their own business or visit local markets Stewart encourages all to get involved in sustainability.
“There’s tons and tons and tons of ways to get involved, whether you’re just looking to come support our vendors and check out our events or if you’re looking to start a sustainable small business yourself,” Stewart said. “We are here to meet you where you’re at.”
For some students, these events are their first time thrifting on campus.
Business administration sophomore Ela Grabowski has never been thrifting on campus. To support her friends as they set up shop, Grabowski brought her pet ducks to explore the market.
“My friend over here, one of her friends is working the little fair. So we were like, ‘We’ll bring the ducks in, check it out,’” Grabowski said.
Even at her first campus thrift experience, Grabowski knows what she wants for her next find.
“I was looking for cool clothes,” Grabowski said. “I also love plants. So I saw a bunch of cool plants over there and I was like, ‘All right, I’ll take a look. See what’s good.’”
To stay updated, those interested can visit the club’s Instagram at @thriftcalpoly.