Meet Cardinal Closet: The New On Campus Thrift-Exchange


Image courtesy of Cardinal Closet

By Katherine Plunkett

Opening in mid-September 2022 is Catholic University’s first on-campus thrift exchange. Situated in the basement of Gibbons Hall, Cardinal Closet will serve as a sustainable fashion option for all members of the CUA community. It is based on an exchange model, meaning no money is required; all you need is an article of clothing to swap. 

The thrift’s current inventory was compiled from student donations and residence hall lost and found items that were never claimed. Students can bring clothing from their closets they no longer wear and exchange it for these gently used items. The clothes are inspected for stains and wear before being accepted, so quality is ensured. 

Cardinal Closet is run by junior psychology major Juliana Walsh, who began the project as a part of an independent study for her sustainability minor. 

“My passion has always been sustainable fashion climate justice,” Walsh said on starting this project. 

While organizing the thrift exchange, she looked into how American University and George Washington University run their on-campus thrift stores. Walsh’s goals for Cardinal Closet are to see significant turnover in clothing and provide a sustainable fashion option on campus, particularly when the DMV area lacks thrift stores. 

“I’m intending for this to be a resource for everyone on campus,” Walsh explained, stating that she hopes it will not just be limited to students but also open to faculty and staff. “I want to see evidence that people are taking their preexisting clothes and that they are being worn on campus by someone else.”

By exchanging their clothes, students have the opportunity to see their items on campus worn in new ways, an immediate manifestation of the positive environmental impact they are taking part in. 

Sophomore vocal performance major Katherine Mackenzie commented, “So many people on campus have such unique styles so I am really excited to see what everyone contributes and add some cool new pieces to my wardrobe.” 

Long term, Walsh is hoping to see Cardinal Closet become independent and self-sustaining beyond her independent study. It has the potential to become a club of its own and work in collaboration with other student groups. 

By participating in the thrift exchange, students will be able to prevent their own clothing waste while also ‘shopping’ for new items in a manner that is easily accessible on campus. Cardinal Closet accepts decor items as well, making decorating and redecorating more environmentally and cost friendly. 

For students also passionate about sustainable fashion, getting involved with Cardinal Closet is a great opportunity. Any interested students can email Walsh at [email protected] if they are looking to get involved with the closet itself or with social media content, which they have a need for. 

Cardinal Closet offers a new opportunity for students to shop sustainably and cost-effectively right on campus. Follow @cardinalclosetcua on Instagram for updates on opening day and more news. 

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