At UB, waste not, want not

A mattress on top of a garbage can.

A new program, called UB ReUSE, created by University at Buffalo students in spring 2016, aims to dissuade students from throwing away usable goods when they move out at the end of the school year.

Release Date: May 4, 2016

“We’d rather collect broken items that can’t be resold and take the time to figure out how to fix them up, or the proper way to dispose of them, rather than continue a cycle-of-waste culture. ”
Jenna Bower, UB ReUSE volunteer

BUFFALO, N.Y. – University at Buffalo students have come up with a creative way to break the cycle of waste that happens when residents move out of their dorms at the end of the school year.

Called UBReUSE, the program is aimed at keeping as much unwanted stuff out of Dumpsters and landfills as possible. So from 1-5 p.m. each day from May 8-15 — the week during which students move out of campus housing — collection sites will be set up at Ellicott Complex, Greiner Hall and Hadley Village on UB’s North Campus where students can drop off unwanted goods.

Acceptable items include furniture, electronics, clothing and small appliances such as coffee makers, blenders and toasters. (Visit the UBReUSE website to see the full list of items that will be accepted.)

“We really want to keep as much out of landfills as possible, so we’re trying to make the collection process as inclusive as we can,” said Jenna Bower, a senior fine art major leading the project. “We’d rather collect broken items that can’t be resold and take the time to figure out how to fix them up, or the proper way to dispose of them, rather than continue a cycle-of-waste culture.”

Items collected during the week will be tested and refurbished, then stored over the summer and will be sold at a discounted price at a yard sale during Opening Weekend (Aug. 27-30).

Clothing and other items will also be donated to Hearts for the Homeless, a Buffalo-based nonprofit that helps the poor and chronic homeless, and the Buffalo City Mission — two organizations with which UB has worked in the past.

The yard sale will offer an affordable way for new students to buy needed materials to furnish their dorms, Bower said, adding that it will be of particular help for UB’s large international student population who often buy items they need from large retailers once they arrive on campus.

“We want to build UBReUSE up as a program that incoming students can rely on for purchasing these items, instead of going to the big-box stores,” Bower said.

“We only have so much space on Earth, and the global population keeps increasing. As kids, we’re taught to clean up our toys and pick up after ourselves. Why, as adults, are we not held to that same standard? It’s lazy, wasteful, stinky and irresponsible.”

Money raised from the yard sale will help expand the UBReUSE program for next year — students plan to involve South Campus and the larger community — and will help support other student-led sustainability initiatives on campus.

“We want to empower students to leave a positive impact at UB, whether that means purchasing outdoor equipment for students to engage more with nature, or purchasing resources for starting recycling programs through TerraCycle that allow us to close other waste streams on campus,” Bower said.

This year’s pilot program is completely student-run, with support from Campus Living and the Office of Sustainability at UB. It’s being administered by students in the Education and Leadership Fellows in Sustainability program and other student volunteers.

UBReUSE is a local chapter of the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN), a non-profit organization that helps student groups with programs aimed at keeping reusable items out of landfills.

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David J. Hill
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Public Health, Architecture, Urban and Regional Planning, Sustainability
Tel: 716-645-4651