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Free Store

The Free Store is UTK’s sustainable thrifting initiative that gives away gently used items through our 22nd St store and on-campus pop-ups at no cost!

 

Our permanent location is now open!

Visit us M-F at 915 22nd St, the “22nd St Duplex”

To stay up-to-date on all things Free Store, please follow us at @freestore_utk.


What is the Free Store?

The Free Store at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville serves as a community-based resource for students, staff, and faculty, dedicated to helping students meet their basic material needs and preventing landfill waste by providing an inclusive and cost-free space for the campus community to acquire gently-used secondhand items.

All items at the Free Store are donated by members of the UT and greater Knoxville community to prevent used clothes and other items from reaching landfills.


When can I visit the Free Store?

The Free Store is open Monday through Friday at 915 22nd St! Our store is open to all members of UT community, including students, faculty, and staff, and is wheelchair accessible. Service animals are also welcome at the store.

Spring 2023 Free Store Open Hours:

Monday 11-5
Tuesday 11-5
Wednesday 2-5
Thursday 11-5
Friday 11-4

We will still host pop-ups throughout the school year, but encourage all to visit our store where we house most of our items. Hours will change each semester as our student workers keep the doors open around their school schedules.


How can I donate to the Free Store?

The Free Store will resume accepting donations on Monday, February 6th.

Outside of our end-of-semester donation drives at residence halls, we are always accepting donations of gently-used items.

You may donate to 915 22nd St on weekdays or to 2121 Stephenson Drive, Dock 24 (pictured left) during weekends.

Please do not leave donations outside at either location.

Weekdays Weekends
22nd St Duplex

915 22nd St

UT Public Recycling Drop-Off

2121 Stephenson Drive, Dock 24


What can I donate to the Free Store?

ACCEPTED*:

  • Clean, gently-used clothes  
  • Clean, gently-used, paired shoes
  • Clean, gently-used accessories, e.g. bags, jewelry, gloves, belts, hats, scarves, etc.
  • Gently-used small furniture, rugs, decorations, and other housewares
  • Small appliances and electronics in good working condition
  • Clean kitchen-, cook-, and glassware
  • Unopened AND unexpired non-perishable food
  • Unopened/unused hygiene, cosmetic, and cleaning supplies
  • Unopened AND unexpired first aid items, e.g. bandages, ointments, medicine packets/bottles, etc. 
  • Gently-used craft/art, school, and office supplies
  • Gently-used sports equipment, e.g. bikes, skateboards, helmets, etc.
  • Hangers

*We are always looking for donations of gently-used: plus-sized clothes in all sizes and styles; masculine-presenting clothes in all sizes and styles; chest binders; and rain gear, e.g. raincoats, umbrellas, etc.

NOT ACCEPTED:

  • USED BEDDING OF ANY KIND, e.g. sheets, comforters, pillows, etc.*
  • Large furniture, mattresses, and bedsprings*
  • Children’s clothes and items**
  • Used underwear
  • Stained, ripped, and damaged clothes
  • Clothes and other textiles contaminated/stained with toxic materials
  • Unpaired or unwearable shoes and socks
  • Broken appliances and electronics***
  • Non-flat screen TVs, i.e. CRT (cathode ray tube) TVs
  • Opened, expired, and/or perishable food
  • Opened/used/expired hygiene, cosmetic, and cleaning supplies
  • Opened, expired first aid items
  • Open craft/art, office, and school supplies
  • Items with pet dander
  • Broken hangers
  • Weapons and firearms

*We recommend donating these items to a local organization, such as Ladies of Charity, Angelic Ministries, or Knoxville Habitat for Humanity.

**We recommend donating these items to a local organization, such as Ladies of Charity or Community Chest.

***Please recycle at the UT Public Recycling Drop-Off located at 2121 Stephenson Dr., Dock 24.


What if the Free Store open hours don’t work with my schedule?

If our open hours do not work with your schedule, please email sustainability@utk.edu OR fill out the form below to request dates and times to visit the Free Store and/or drop off donations.

  


How do I volunteer?

Weekly volunteer hours are TBD. Sign up for other volunteer opportunities with UT Sustainability HERE.


Why does the Free Store matter?

It’s an inclusive, cost-free resource to reduce financial strain on students and help them meet basic needs.

The Free Store is open to all members of the campus community. Students, faculty, and staff who visit our permanent location or on-campus pop-ups will never be asked any questions and may take as much or as little as they need.

By offering students an equal chance to take items for free, the Free Store is removing the stigma that surrounds financial insecurity. The cost of college can leave many students on a tight budget or going without necessities.

In a survey conducted by the Office of Sustainability in 2018, students reported that the monetary and convenience aspects of the Free Store were the most important to them. That is shifting in 2019, with more students answering that reusing items is important to them.

It reduces the environmental impact of UT students.

Buying new clothes is one of the single most harmful things an individual can do to the environment in terms of energy and resource consumption. Extracting raw materials from the environment to make household items consumes natural resources and produces greenhouse gases. Purchasing a clothing item online, for example, might seem like a minor purchase, but once you take into account all the water that was used to grow the cotton to make the shirt, the physical space required to grow the cotton, all the oil needed to harvest, manufacture, and transport the shirt, and the cardboard box it came in, your new shirt actually has a massive carbon footprint.

For clothing and other textiles, water is also a key issue. The table below lists how much water it takes to make everyday clothing items.

How much water are you wearing?
Leather Shoes 3,626 gallons
Cotton Jeans 2,108 gallons
Cotton T-Shirt 659 gallons

Source: watercalculator.org

When you choose to buy used clothing instead of new, you reduce the number of resources required to make new clothing and keep old clothes out of the landfill. According to a 2016 survey detailed in the Washington Post, the average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing every year.

Read More: 

How to stop 13 million tons of clothing from getting trashed each year