Promoting Sustainability and Doing It in Style

By Stella Haffner   |   July 19, 2022
Pop-ups on campus raise awareness of clothing waste in a functional way

Among many notable features of the SoCal dogma is our cultural stake in sustainability. 

We see this move to more eco-friendly choices manifest in everything from earthy aesthetics in new-age coffee houses to school-based programs. At MUS alone, I remember the birth of the Green Team, who provided every kid at school with a reusable water bottle, our Walk-and-Roll day that encouraged families to save on gas and find an alternative mode of transport to school, and the annual skit in which fifth-grade favorite Doug Bower would play evil Mr. Carbon. In another part of Santa Barbara County, UCSB students are championing the reduce, reuse, recycle lifestyle in the form of the Isla Vista Trading Post. To learn more about the clothing-focused sustainability club, I spoke to Marlena Goodman, final year undergraduate and upcoming president of the Isla Vista Trading Post. 

Q. What does the Isla Vista Trading Post do?

A. We collect clothing donations from around Isla Vista and then host pop-up events where you can take three items of clothing for free in the effort to reduce clothing waste and promote sustainability. Our goal is to encourage other universities and communities to expand their efforts because this model is so simple. It can really work anywhere. We’ve already had a couple other universities reach out to us, wanting to start similar programs. UC Davis was the first, and I think Santa Cruz is starting one now. It’s just really great to see it growing from this little group of friends to where we are now. 

Why is it important to re-circulate clothing?

Because there’s so much of it, and it so frequently ends up in landfills. I used to work in a thrift store with one of the founders, and you would not believe the amount of clothing that we get and have to throw away because it’s in bad condition. It just sucks. But you can’t do anything. I just had to remind myself that it’s not my fault that this thing is potentially getting sent to the landfill. This culture of overconsumption that tells you that enough is never enough, that you have to just keep buying. And I’m like: “Why would you need this? Why would anyone buy this thing?” I think it’s increasingly important to find alternate ways to consume. I think it’s so great to have this model of free clothing because this eliminates the money barrier that often comes with buying sustainably. It’s also that thrifting – second-hand clothing in general – it’s just an incredible way to promote your personal sense of style. I think it’s just great to spread the message of thrifting and sustainable clothing. And I’m hoping we do that. 

As the upcoming president of the Isla Vista Trading Post, what are your goals going forward?

I’ll start off with our broad goals. We want to make sure we’re re-circulating clothing, promoting the mentality of sustainability, and reducing the stigma around shopping second-hand. Besides, shopping second-hand is so cool. You find the coolest stuff, and not to mention if you’re shopping at thrift stores or here at the IV Trading Post, it’s so much cheaper. In terms of our short-term goals, we’re trying to expand our model to work with homeless shelters, specifically the ones that house youth. We’re trying to work with SBACT right now, specifically Noah’s Anchorage, which houses homeless youth. We’re gathering a list of items from them that the kids who frequent the area want. When we do our sortings, we’ll do our best to look through our stuff and find something similar if not the actual thing these kids are looking for. We’re also hoping to host events at Noah’s Anchorage or at other homeless shelters around the Santa Barbara area just because we have so many clothes. It just makes sense to give back. 

An IV Trading Post fashion show lets Isla Vistans show off their new finds

How can people learn more about sustainability?

I like to think just by experiencing it. There’s a lot of discourse right now about sustainability and thrifting – what is okay and not okay – and I feel it can get kind of convoluted. Social media, for example, can be a really great platform to learn, but at the same time it can go sour. I hope places like IV Trading Post and even online thrift stores can promote the idea of sustainability. Education about it is so difficult because it’s so hard to reach a wide audience. I guess I’d say that my personal definition of sustainability is doing whatever you can to reduce consumption. That comes down to things like mending your clothes and not immediately buying something new and throwing it away. 

What is your favorite thrift store in Santa Barbara?

I work for Destined for Grace, so I’m tempted to say there, but the thrift store in the Magnolia Center – that one’s pretty good, pretty cheap. 

What are your personal tips for becoming more sustainable?

It really comes down to consuming less and making informed decisions. I like this thing, if I buy it, am I going to actually wear it? I’m guilty of this too where things sit in my closet. Sure, something can be thrifted, but it doesn’t help to be buying things that you’re not actually going to get use out of. So definitely making those informed decisions, mending your clothes, thinking how you can re-wear or reuse your things. Even my old t-shirts I end up using as rags or scrap fabric. Or, of course, I can donate things to IV Trading Post. I think it just comes down to being an informed consumer and asking yourself how you’re going to get use out of this item. 

To learn more about sustainability and Isla Vista Trading Post, visit the IVTP on Instagram


You might also be interested in...