More students thought twice before throwing out their rickety bowl chairs and outmoded winter jackets at the Spring Salvage last semester.
The end-of-the-year recycling program, which encourages Yalies to recycle their unwanted clothes and furniture, collected fewer tons of student belongings this year — 50 tons compared to the 60 tons collected in 2008, The Office of Sustainability announced in its newsletter last week. This year’s donations were worth about $100,000, with all items valued at half their original price.
Bob Ferretti, the Office of Sustainability’s education and outreach manager, said he thought the decline in donations could be traced in part to students’ lack of desire to throw away their belongings during the recession, as well as local residents and students taking more from the bins.
Despite the reduction in donations, he said the program has grown tremendously since its inception in the 1990s.
“At one point, everything we are now collecting was getting tossed into dumpsters and into the waste stream,” he said. “We don’t need it to go to the landfill or incinerator.”
In addition to donating to local charities, Spring Salvage also recycled items on campus for the first time, collaborating with the Office of International Students and Scholars to resell some of the donated furniture at nominal prices to incoming international students, who often bring fewer possessions to college. The money went toward buying a pod — a moveable storage unit — to store recycled items over the summer.
Ferretti said the Law School and McDougal Center are considering following suit next year, storing donated goods over the summer in order to resell them to students who live farther away from campus. The Office of Sustainability eventually wants to expand the program to West Coast undergraduates, he added.
The 50 tons of donated items, which included 158 tables, 296 area rugs and 1,073 bags of clothing, were distributed to 53 local nonprofit organizations such as Salvation Army, Goodwill and soup kitchen,s in addition to the OISS.
A distributor for Salvation Army in New Haven — who would only identify himself as Tom — said the Spring Salvage donation was much larger than the average donation, typically from a household, adding that he appreciated the University’s efforts to help students donate goods instead of throwing them away.
Although Yale Recycling started a smaller version of Spring Salvage in the 1990s, the spring move-out recycling drive did not gain traction until 2006.
Now, the Office of Sustainability hires a fellow each January to coordinate the logistics of collecting and storing donated items with the Office of Facilities, Ferretti said. Planning begins before spring break, when the Office of Sustainability encourages students to take home belongings they might otherwise throw out at the end of the year.
Ferretti said the funding to rent out a warehouse to store and sort the donated items, as well as pay for the general costs of collecting the items, is part of the Office of Facilities’ annual budget, but is also offset, in part, by the reduced need for extra dumpsters, known as “roll-offs.”