Sustainability manager Amy Parsons-White hosted the grand opening of the Marshall University Thrift Store on Sept. 10, while President Gilbert cut the opening day ribbon.
According to Parsons-White, the campus cut the waste haul 50% by last spring semester.
“There are a lot of other universities that have thrift stores and I saw an article on University of New Hampshire, on how successful their thrift store had been and I thought that it would fit in well with our university, our students. Everyone loves to thrift,” said Parsons-White.
The thrift store has been active in the last two years, starting with Big Green Moveout in 2020. Their first Big Green Moveout was intended to start in spring 2020, but was ended shortly when students moved out due to the pandemic. Parsons-White said the students were still excited to be involved and donated when they moved out.
“Moveout produces a lot [of waste] because as students are moving, typically if it doesn’t fit in their car, they just don’t take it,” said Parsons-White.
The University thrift store is only the beginning for the Sustainability Department, whose goal as of 2026 is for the University to be 90% waste free.
“We are also working on phasing out single-use plastics,” said Parsons-White. “That is something that President Gilbert signed last spring semester and we are working with Sodexo to start with the kitchens to get rid of the Styrofoam and single-use plastics used there.”
Another way the community is reducing waste is the start of the first commercial compost facility in the state of West Virginia. This compost facility will also be the largest at any University in the east. Marshall University will become one of the first in the country to utilize this technology.
“We will be composting all food, lawn waste, and office paper at our facility which will greatly reduce our waste haul,” said Parsons-White. “We will also produce a product, compost, a soil amendment called herd dirt that we will then use on campus.”
On campus, the sustainability department hopes hosting events throughout the semester will educate students on how to live sustainably.
“October is worldwide sustainability month, so we will have different activities going on all month,” said Parsons-White. “We are working with Sodexo to do a locally produced food day, offering more vegetarian and vegan options. Then also we will have activities out at the plaza… and probably a few movie nights at Harless field.”
Parsons-White said students can work toward living more sustainably in simple ways. “Be mindful of what you buy, there are a lot of options out there now,” said Parsons-White.
“That is the thing that as students need to remember, you guys have the power, this is your school, and if you want to see these things happen, President Gilbert and many of the administrators are very approachable and they will listen,” Parsons-White said.