Each spring when college students leave their dorms, they leave behind tons of unwanted furniture, rugs, and other stuff that just didn’t make the cut for the trip back home. At one time, it all would’ve ended up in a landfill. In recent years, some universities have been sorting out the usable items and holding huge yard sales. The GLRC’s Jennifer Szweda Jordan took her pocketbook and her microphone to one of those big sales:
Each spring when college students leave their dorms, they leave behind tons of unwanted
furniture, rugs, and other stuff that just didn’t make the cut for the trip back home. At one time,
it all would’ve ended up in a landfill. In recent years, some universities have been sorting out the
usable items and holding huge yard sales. The GLRC’s Jennifer Szweda Jordan took her
pocketbook and her microphone to one of those big sales:
“Welcome to the fifth annual Trash to Treasure sale. Let the excitement begin.”
At 7:30 a.m., the gates to Beaver football stadium at Penn State are hoisted and thousands of
people run through six metal corrals. It’s a mad dash for CD players, stuffed animals, and other
remnants of college. Sixty-six tons… of stuff. What’s with kids leaving behind all this, and that
$215 chichi bronze silk purse – with tag intact?
“No one wants to take it home. I mean to fit all that stuff in a car – it’s awful. It’s really hard to
do. So I mean if you can’t fit it you might as well leave it and leave it for somebody else.”
Erin Horning is a college student herself. She’s here for the fourth year in a row.
“I was a freshman in college this past year so I came here to get all my college stuff from the
students that already left like irons, and oh, furniture….”
Penn State’s Environmental Strategies Team started the Trash to Treasure sale to keep leftover
lumber and coffee mugs out of the waste stream. Other major colleges around the country are
following suit, including Notre Dame and West Virginia University. Penn State spokesman Paul
D. Ruskin says it also saves the school 43-hundred dollars in hauling costs.
“We had a problem. We had 60 to 70 tons of usable material left behind. And the solution which
we found was to have this massive sale and to have the items donated to this sale. And to have
United Way take over and manage the sale.”
The charity brings in 300 volunteers who sort sale items over a few weeks. Bethany Heim
volunteered for 19 shifts. She and her husband are also first in line for the sale, having arriving
(sound of people in stadium)
“I came for a vacuum. It started as a joke when I started volunteering here three weeks ago.
And now I found THE vacuum.”
Heim says that besides keeping trash out of landfills, the sale benefits the community in other
“They have stuff put away for Katrina victims. I’m sure some of it will make its way to the flood
victims in New England. And just that it’s not on the sides of the streets – ’cause driving
through town when you see all the furniture from the college kids on the sides of the streets.”
Penn State tries to bring more customers in every year. The school’s Paul D. Ruskin admits that
the county market for box fans has already been saturated. So now it’s trying to generate
enthusiasm with gimmicks. Like this year’s attempt to break the record for the most people
wearing Groucho Marx masks. The effort fell 138 people shy. Still, the United Way netted 45,000 dollars. And as for Bethany Heim…
“I got my vacuum!”
And with happy customers like that, universities are starting to realize that selling all the college
student leftovers is good P.R. as well as just good sense.
For the GLRC, I’m Jennifer Szweda Jordan.