Many college students throw away unwanted dorm items at the end of the school year. The EcoReps Move-In Resale changes this culture of waste by selling items that would traditionally be sent to a landfill.
The third annual 2019 EcoReps Move-In Resale took place on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Dillon Gym. The over 500 students in attendance bought 2,000 items, diverting some 15 tons of waste from landfills.
During move-out in the spring, the Ecology Representatives — or EcoReps, for short — collect items left for trash outside of dorm rooms. The EcoReps team then stores these items over the summer in preparation for the resale.
“Through our program, we’re able to keep that item on campus, basically for the summer, and then give it to a new set of students who have the same need as this group of students before, at a reduced price and at a reduced cost to the environment,” said Tatijana Stewart ’21, one of three EcoReps leaders in charge of greening move out and resale.
While most of the items collected by EcoReps are sold at the resale, other items are given for free to students in the University Freshman Scholars Institute, held in July for first-generation and low-income students, or donated to charities such as Goodwill and Grad Bag, an organization that gives items to low-income students to prepare them for college. Additionally, students in the Scholars Institute Fellows Program are given a discount coupon.
Every item at the resale — including mirrors, fridges, futons, couches, tables, and chairs — was sold at a discounted rate to students.
Engagement and Communications Coordinator at the Office of Sustainability Lisa Nicolaison wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian that the cost for students is based on the price of a similar item at stores such as Target and Amazon.
“We take those prices and reduce the price to anywhere between 20-50 percent depending on the quality of the item – how new it is, the condition of the item, the uniqueness of the item based on our inventory,” she wrote.
The EcoReps leaders, in addition to temporarily hired student workers, set up and operated the Resale. The variety of items available for purchase attracted a large number of students.
“We had basically a line out the doors of Dillon Gym before we even opened up the sale, and we had a steady stream of people for the first few hours until most of the items were gone,” Stewart said.
“Seeing that enormous, enormous line and everyone just looking so excited, it felt very, very rewarding,” Christie Chong ’20, another EcoReps leader involved in planning the Resale, said.
Students interviewed by the ‘Prince’ said they appreciated the opportunity to purchase items at a low cost.
“We bought a really good futon, which is high-quality and it was very affordable,” Millie Hernandez ’22 said. “It was all within budget, and I’m glad we got to reuse something that was once someone else’s, so we didn’t have to spend a ton of money on something that was new.”
In total, Nicolaison wrote that the program made $11,400, all of which will contribute to next year’s program.
“Our goal is not to make a profit but to break even and cover the costs of operating the program,” she explained.
As the numbers demonstrate, the EcoReps Resale met its goals. The EcoReps team hopes that the Resale illustrates the importance of sustainability to the campus community.
“One of the reasons why I love the Resale and I think it’s so important is because it reminds students at the very beginning of the year that [sustainability] is definitely one of the things that Princeton values a lot,” Chong said. “People can maintain that mindset throughout the year, and then they can also get excited and get excited about next year’s resale.”