As the semester comes to an end and students start packing for their next destination, many must decide what to keep and what to give away. One program available to the community is Waste Not, an initiative that makes it easier for students to get rid of unwanted items while promoting access to low-cost goods on campus. This spring, starting on May 3, Waste Not is working to collect items ranging from decorations to furniture in order to promote an environmentally-friendly campus and collaborative student body.
“Typically, with students leaving dorms, they tend to leave their stuff behind, and it accumulates waste,” Sustainability Coordinator Simi Dalyop ’22 said. “[Waste Not] is a way to collect these items and sell it back to students in the fall for really cheap prices.”
The program, which is one of many initiatives run by the Sustainability Office, aims to reduce waste on campus. The moving in and moving out processes can create lots of trash and oftentimes lead to redundant purchasing. As students look to decorate their dorms and acquire necessities, Waste Not provides a crowd-funded way to get needed items sustainably.
“There are a lot of different programs that the Sustainability Office does, and Waste Not remains kind of a perennial favorite,” Sustainability Director Jen Kleindienst said. “It’s one of the few times where we can really see, ‘Oh, we have physically filled up an entire garage floor to ceiling with stuff that would probably have been thrown in a dumpster.’”
In the fall, Waste Not will put these items to use again in a sale for the entire student body. Typically, the line spans blocks and the wait can last for hours as students pick through mini-fridges, mirrors, old couches, and more.
“In the first couple days of the fall, when students start coming back on campus, we have big sales with all the supplies that we’ve collected,” Sustainability Coordinator Julian DeMann ’22 explained.
The items available at Waste Not are purchased by students, usually for a small fee, and so the event turns a profit. The Sustainability Office takes this money and donates to a charity of their choice.
“We are always trying to find out who is in need and what is the best home for all of the stuff we collect in the fall,” said Kleindienst. “We have donated some amount of money to Amazing Grace every year…But we’ve also donated to disaster relief in different parts of the world and sometimes to local or regional environmental or environmental justice organizations.”
Waste Not is also collaborating with other Wesleyan organizations to help make the program more accessible to all students on campus.
“As part of all of our donations, we also collect things to go to the Resource Center food pantry,” Kleindienst said. “We have historically also collected books for the Resource Center for their textbook library. This summer, there will also be a lot of students who are staying on campus because they are not able to go home, so we’re going to be coordinating with the Resource Center to bring over some fridges, microwaves, and other kitchen items.”
In the upcoming year, Waste Not also hopes to collaborate with Middletown Mutual Aid Collective (MMAC) to provide assistance to Middletown residents.
“We’re starting a relationship with Middletown Mutual Aid and the community fridge project,” Kleindienst said. “We’ll be donating there for the first time since the fridge just launched this year. [We’re] trying to figure out what that partnership will look like and if there are ways that Waste Not can help support those efforts now and in the future.”
As for right now, the program is looking to hire volunteers to help coordinate the collection of donations in the last few weeks of the school year.
“We’re in the process of recruiting volunteers who will help us collect these items,” Dalyop said. “It’s a tedious job, I must tell you, because the volunteers have to go around the buildings, collect these items, and stay for one week after commencement.”
In partnership with Goodwill, the program is setting up bins around campus for students to drop off unwanted items starting on May 3.
“There are going to be donation bins in all dorms as well as in Fauver and High Rise starting on Monday,” Kleindienst said. “People can donate small items, food and books, up until they move out.”
In the next few weeks, Waste Not will also be promoting its services through social media, hoping to encourage students to think about how they are contributing to waste on campus as the school year comes to an end.
“There will be information coming out through Facebook and Instagram stories from our Instagram.” DeMann said.
The program hopes students will start donating early to help the student body get excited about participating.
“Start cleaning out [your] rooms early so that we can get donations where they need to go,” Kleindienst said. “We hope to have everybody participating so we are only throwing away things that are broken and not usable.”
Waste Not is also thankful for student participation in helping to make Wesleyan a more sustainable and accessible space.
“Shout out to all the community for really making this happen,” Dalyop said. “It wouldn’t be possible without the Wesleyan community coming together. We are really appreciative of what the students, the staff, and everyone are doing to make Wesleyan a more sustainable space for everyone.”
Jo Harkless can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.