Students Turn Trash to Treasure at Massive Yard Sale Aug. 23 – 25, 2013

Students Turn Trash to Treasure at Massive Yard Sale Aug. 23 – 25, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013
students with yardsael items

Since its founding three years ago, UNH’s Trash 2 Treasure has diverted 100 tons of waste from UNH’s waste stream. Credit: Daniel Mannarino.

Founded by students just three years ago, the annual UNH Trash 2 Treasure (T2T) yard sale has become a highly anticipated ritual of moving into campus. This year’s sale, in the Whittemore Center Aug. 23 to 25, 2013, features more than 20,000 items – all of them discarded by students moving out in the spring – for sale. The sale of college-living essentials lets incoming first-year and returning students furnish their rooms and apartments on the cheap and help the environment. 

Trash 2 Treasure yard sale: Friday, Aug. 23-Sunday Aug. 25, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Friday and Sunday; noon – 5 p.m. Saturday, at the Whittemore Center. Friday morning early-bird special: Doors open at 8 a.m. for $5 dollars. Free entry after 9 a.m. 

Featuring more than 20,000 items of electronics, furniture, rugs, kitchen, school and cleaning supplies, decorative accessories, clothing, and more. 

Parking is extremely limited; shoppers are encouraged not to drive; a pick-up/delivery service for larger items will be available for a small fee. 

“The joy of this sale is that there are so many odd, wonderful and useful things for others to find for the first time, and a few strange things we may have missed ourselves,” says Sophie Rathjen ’15, coordinator for the sale. Among the 45 tons of items for sale this year – many of them dorm-room staples like shower caddies, bed risers, trash cans, bulletin boards, and rugs – are some unique gems “including a bean bag chair that looks like a giant tootsie roll, a red couch with elephants parading across it and of course our own collections of odd clothes and costumes,” Rathjen adds. 

“If T2T had not stepped in, these perfectly reusable college dorm and apartment accessories would have gone directly into a landfill,” says Alex Freid ‘13, founder of the program. “It’s our hope that the sale will encourage students to think sustainably about the purchases they make and to open their eyes to just how much stuff we really throw away.” 

Launched by Freid and Emily Spognardi ’14 with UNH’s Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) in 2011, UNH T2T is the first student-led, self-sustaining campus waste reduction program in the country. Since its launch, T2T has diverted 100 tons of waste from UNH’s waste stream, saving the university $10,000 in disposal costs; has achieved more than $30,000 in sales; and has donated five tons of food and clothing to local shelters. In addition to the annual yard sale, T2T has recycled thousands of electronics over the last two years with the help of UNH Housing. This year, the program will be recycling textiles, rugs and foam mattress pads through companies in Massachusetts.  

The success of the program garnered local and national attention with articles in local newspapers, magazines, and USA Today. Freid received the prestigious Udall Foundation Scholarship for his work in setting up the program, and the group won “Program of the Year” through UNH’s Leadership Office and was a top finalist for the “Most Influential College Organization” category of the International Classy Awards out of 2400 nominations. 

This year also marks the official expansion of T2T via PLAN: The Post-Landfill Action Network, a nonprofit founded by Freid to bring the success of T2T to universities nationwide. PLAN provides start-up funding, leadership training, educational resources and discounts to support self-sustaining waste reduction programs like T2T on campuses around the country. Supported by a Samuel Huntington Public Service Award and an online fundraising campaign, PLAN is taking T2T’s success “beyond the sale,” Freid says. 

“Now that we have established how to deal with re-usable items, we are looking into how to recycle items that have reached the end of their use-value. We have also found that this is virtually impossible to do alone, and the benefits of PLAN are that we can aggregate ‘hard-to-recycle’ items like carpet and textiles among multiple different campuses so that we can recycle them properly,” he says.

Learn more about Trash 2 Treasure and PLAN: Watch a video: Watch a UNH commercial featuring Freid and Trash 2 Treasure: