UF Thrift Club is a local UF organization with a mission to provide a community for students who share a passion for thrifting, upcycling, repurposing, and an interest in slow fashion. ​Over the past four years, the organization has expanded its reach beyond the UF campus and into the Gainesville community as a whole through partnerships and events open to the general public. They strive to promote living sustainably through intentional, second-hand shopping by hosting thrift swaps, educational events, eco markets, and more. Since Fall of 2021, Opus Coffee has provided a space and outlet for the Thrift Club to grow within the Gainesville community through a monthly Thrift Swap at our Innovation location.

The Power of Thrift Swapping

Each person brings at least one piece of gently used clothing that they no longer wear in exchange for taking home a bag of clothes others have brought to this free event. Clothing that is not taken home is donated to a local non-profit organization that provides the clothes to others in need at no charge, rather than donating them somewhere that will resell them. Our current beneficiary for leftover clothing is Peaceful Paths, a certified domestic violence center that serves survivors of domestic violence in Alachua, Bradford, and Union counties. 

Through the thrift swaps, we are able to bring new life to pre-loved clothes brought in by club members, UF students, and the residents of Gainesville. These events create a friendly social environment for people to meet up, hang out, and enjoy coffee while playing a part in reducing textile waste, promoting sustainability, and extending the life of clothing.

Peaceful Paths table at Opus Coffee thrift swap

Peaceful Paths at Innovation’s Thrift Swap

According to Earth.org, 85% of all textiles end up in landfills each year. Through the Opus Coffee x Thrift Club collaboration, we have been able to donate over 1,000 pounds of clothing to Peaceful Paths in the past year, and have made it possible for people to declutter their closets and find new clothing in a sustainable and fun way. Ultimately, these events have helped Opus and Thrift Club contribute to reducing the local environmental impact of the clothing industry.

Collaboration is Key

While Thrift Club may have started as a UF Organization, over time it has grown to be a resource and opportunity for the entirety of Gainesville. 

UF Thrift Club President, Emma Hanley stated, “We’re a UF Organization but all of our events, everything, are open to everyone in Gainesville.” 

Opus Coffee and Thrift Club wanted the monthly thrift swaps to be a place for the community to have an opportunity for anyone in Gainesville – without any cost to them – to get new clothes, update their wardrobes in a sustainable way, and donate to a great cause. 

A group of people inside Opus Coffee Innovation during a thrift swap.

Thrift Swap at Innovation

What’s Coming Up Next?

In April, 4th Ave Food Park hosted the first Eco Market on April 7th from 11am-3pm in partnership with UF Thrift Club. It featured a variety of vendors, including Unlitter and several artists as well as booths offering sustainable or repurposed clothing, vegan food, sustainable activities, all in addition to a thrift swap from 2-3pm. Hanley said, “We wanted to create a space for all kinds of sustainability related organizations and vendors in Gainesville to come together.” 

Other upcoming events include our last Opus Coffee and Thrift Club thrift swap of the semester on April 18th from 6:30-8:00pm at Opus Coffee Innovation. It will be a great event for UF students and Gainesville locals to do some spring cleaning and find new staples for the summer in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Thrift Club will also be hosting their Thrift Gala toward the end of April, in partnership with Unlitter. They will have vendors, live music, a fashion show with handmade and thrifted clothes, and other activities. They are also planning upcoming collaborations with Makerspace at UF to teach their members more about sewing and upcycling clothes. 

Hanley shared Thrift Club’s hope for the future to be even more integrated in the Gainesville community, “We have people in our club who are interested in fashion, sustainability, or both, and I think that is present in Gainesville too, and we hope to be a bridge between students and the local community.”

Simple Sustainability

“It can feel overwhelming when you think about sustainability and the climate and future of the Earth,” Hanley acknowledged, “but there are still actions that you can take as individuals and as the community to promote sustainability like choosing to walk or bike or using public transportation instead of driving, even simple stuff like tote bags, reusable water bottles, recycling, all of that still makes a difference.” Each person who attends the Thrift Swaps plays a role in making a local impact and creating a more sustainable community. 

Get Involved

To stay updated on upcoming events, such as our thrift swaps, eco market, and thrift gala, follow @thriftclubuf and @opuscoffee on Instagram. Remember, you don’t need to be a UF student to participate. Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast, interested in living more sustainably, or simply looking to declutter your closet, all of our events are open to the public and we encourage everyone and anyone to join.

Small changes lead to big results. By attending Thrift Club events, supporting local businesses like Opus Coffee, and incorporating sustainable practices into your daily routine, you can be part of the solution. Together, we can all make a difference in building a more sustainable future for Gainesville, one thrift swap at a time.