At the end of every year students are faced with the monumental task of fitting all of their belongings into their car, or even worse, into a few suitcases. As a result, many items are left behind in hallways, lounges, and dumpsters.
While the trend of leaving unwanted possessions behind has become somewhat of an annual occurrence, a group of students and faculty have decided to make a difference.
At the close of this school year, this sustainability committee will host an event called “Trash to Treasure.” This initiative aims to give students the opportunity to take all of their unwanted things they would typically throw away and donate them to a tag sale open to other students and community members instead.
“This event is set to kick off the day after reading day,” said Audrey Seaman, 22, an English major from Warrensburg, N.Y., who is the senior advisor on sustainability for the Student Government Association (SGA). “The main purpose is to eliminate the amount of trash that accumulates at the end of every year because students don’t have enough room in the car or they don’t have use for it over the summer.”
“During finals week, there will be two hours in the afternoon where certain volunteer students will be going around to designated areas in each building, collecting unwanted things that will then be stored in Kreitzberg Arena for the week,” Seaman said. “At some point in the middle of that week, we hope to open the sale up to students and then on the Monday following graduation and commission weekend, we will have a sale targeted towards Northfield community members.”
As the president of SGA and an involved student, George Bausch, 20, a criminal justice from Brewster Mass., has encouraged as many people to participate as possible because sustainability is becoming a driving force on campus. “A lot of what’s left behind can be donated and given back to the community,” Bausch said.
“Every student remembers what the dumpsters look like during finals week,” Bausch said. “It’s very important to us that we can make a difference here and help reduce the amount of waste that can just as easily be recycled. I think a lot of students will be very excited at the prospect of donating their things rather than throwing them out.”
“If it doesn’t fit in the car then it goes out the window,” joked Meredith Lewandowski, 22, a communications major from Milton, Vt. “Every year I see students flocking to the rooms with dumpsters placed underneath them and watch them launch an array of stuff out the window.”
The items left behind can vary from broken plastic bins to perfectly good printers. “People are so excited to leave that they’ll pretty much throw anything out rather than deal with the hassle of finding room for it in the car,” Lewandowski said.
The “Trash to Treasure” event is accepting items such as clothing, uniforms, cleaning supplies, furniture, appliances, electronics, and anything else that is still functional.
“I honestly never really considered how much good stuff students waste at the end of the year because everyone is so focused on leaving,” Lewandowski said. “When I heard about the Trash to Treasure event, I realized how easily everything can be reused.”
“I think most students would want to donate their old stuff, but have never been presented the opportunity to do so,” Lewandowski said. “I think it’s awesome to know that we can donate to a good cause.”
Vermont’s own Ben & Jerry’s will even be supporting the sustainable effort by donating buckets of ice cream which will be served to a few hundred students throughout the pickup hours. “I think it will be a great way to help spark interest in the event and make it an enjoyable spring effort,” Seaman said.
“I’m a big offender of throwing out good things myself,” said Matthew Blanchard, 21, a political science major from Framingham, Mass. “It’s this notion that I and other students develop that mom and dad will just buy us new things at the start of the next school year.”
The best thing about the Trash to Treasure project is that there will be set areas for unwanted materials in each building. With the chaos and extra stress of finals week, the sustainability committee wants to make this project as simple as possible for students to donate to.
Kristine Seipel, the housing officer and adjunct for Norwich University, said, “We want to take the money we make from the sale and use it promote sustainability. The amount of waste that is left at the end of every year has always been very noticeable, it just took until now for us to decide to do something about it,” she explained.
“Just as in a yard sale, someone’s ‘junk’ may become someone else’s prized possession,” Seipel said. “So rather than have all of this stuff end up in a landfill somewhere, we can provide people with perfectly good things for a cheap price.”
Item donations can be accepted from anyone, including faculty, staff, and community members: This is not only an event to advance the university’s sustainable practices, but to connect the population. The sustainability committee itself consists of a wide range of members dedicated to sustainable living. The members of the committee consist of students, professors, administration, and the center for civic engagement
For further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact members of SGA. For those students who wish to volunteer with this event, permission will be granted from the housing office to stay past their last final to participate.
There will be flyers posted around campus and during finals week a two-ton truck will be driven around the UP with music playing to remind students to donate. “The Trash to Treasure project is a great way to get the campus involved in a good cause that will benefit the community,” Seaman said.