|Don’t miss the opportunity to volunteer – Goodbye Goodbuy welcomes helping hands! The volunteer signups for May and August are currently online, but if you’re looking to get involved over the summer or want to be more involved the group, contact Evan Zachary at email@example.com or the Goodbye Goodbuy account, ggRIT@rit.edu. Get connected with Goodbye Goodbuy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!|
Growing up my family taught me to think before throwing something out and I try hard to live by the philosophy of “waste not, want not.” It used to pain me to see the innumerable amount of items thrown away each year at the end of the semester that other people could use, but fortunately we now have Goodbye Goodbuy to provide a solution to the problem. The program is all about keeping items out of dumpsters and landfills that could be used by other students on campus.
Last summer, Gauri from our team was able to get a behind the scenes look while she volunteered one afternoon. She saw firsthand the massive amount of electronics, furniture, household goods, toiletries, food and more that may have wound up as trash if it weren’t for Goodbye Goodbuy. RIT Housing Operations and Student Auxiliary Services were huge supporters for the start of the program and now the New Student Orientation Office has joined in the efforts. RIT invested $10,000 in the program, and the money created worker positions, co-op opportunities, infrastructure, equipment, storage, food, T-shirts and marketing materials. They took a leap of faith that turned into a successful venture. As the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained!”
“Once it’s in the dumpster, we don’t touch it. We aim to keep things out of the dumpster,” said Enid Cardinal, Senior Sustainability Advisor to the President and Adviser of Goodbye Goodbuy. As you can see, they kept a great deal of material from being tossed in dumpsters and trashed at landfills. University News wrote on the success of Goodbye Goodbuy in its first year. Awards were given to the volunteers and workers who made it possible for them to collect and sell over 70,000 pounds of recycled items. I met with student workers and RIT staff members who played large roles in the start and success of the first Goodbye Goodbuy sale. Evan Zachary, the current project manager, said, “We underestimated. We didn’t expect for year one to have so much student participation.” They made more than double what they started with, totaling $22,000. The resounding theme? It was far more than they ever could have hoped for, and the turnout expected this year is immeasurable. “We didn’t know what to expect: it was a phenomenal success its first year!” says Cardinal. “We were basically hoping to break even, to have as much as they started with.”
Kurt Ingerick, the Executive Director of Student Auxiliary Services, says there is a “mass exodus” of students leaving and throwing things away each spring. “(We) looked at overflowing dumpsters, students moving and not wanting to take things. We saw and knew there had to be a better way.” The program’s strength in its first year is a good sign that each year it will grow, and that there is a great need for this program on campus. Other colleges have programs like this, and have grown so large that some have year-round thrift stores run by students, filled by students. “It’d be amazing to reach $40K in surplus to put back into the program and have it continue to grow,” Ingerick said. “Expenses of this year come out of the profit from the last. Success would be it becoming self-sustainable, paying for itself year after year.”
Goodbye Goodbuy donated toiletries, food, school supplies and more to facilities in our Rochester community, as well as donations received from around the Rochester community. “MCC heard about our program,” said Cardinal. “They were replacing furniture and sent it to us. UC and the residence halls had furniture renovations too, and we made sure that instead of throwing them out that those items were put in the sale.”
The outreach that this program achieved was much more than organizers expected as well. The students involved in the creation of Goodbye Goodbuy began presenting their program and plans around the state. Zachary presented about the initiative at the University of Rochester (U of R) and found out that U of R students came to our sale. Ingerick wants to reach out to Park Point, Province, and other places that may be renovating and replacing furniture — why throw it out when students could use it? He also hopes that faculty and staff will consider donating things from their homes as well.
The Goodbye Goodbuy staff aimed to make the collection areas more organized after soliciting feedback from students on Reddit, Facebook and Twitter and asking volunteers to make a “should have…” list last year. Besides boxes and locations on residence hall floors and by the on-campus apartments, there are three main collection and sorting locations: Sol Heumann Hall is the central location for Goodbye Goodbuy; OCASA & RIT FoodShare will receive food and toiletries; and the trailers will house furniture. “We have 2 different stacks,” Zachary told me. “Food, toiletries, and clothing vs. everything else. The boxes will be separate and we hope this will help organize them before we even collect them.”
I asked each person I interviewed what suggestions they had for those looking to donate items: “Cleaning products, toiletries – secure lids, completely close things!” said Cardinal. “Also, non-perishable food only. Look at the expiration date, not the sell by date — they’re different!”
“Not broken stuff, stuff that works,” Zachary adds. “We plug everything in and check it, but it saves us a lot of time and money when we’re given things that work.” He goes on to say a few more things: “If it’s a liquid, powder or substance — label it! Clean things if you can. And please, no smoking paraphernalia, no weapons, nothing we can’t handle or sell.” Zachary also mentioned that there are specific donation items people forget about. “Gently used bras will be given to Panache (Vintage & Finer Consignment), who washes them and rewires them, then gives them to women who need them.” Clothes are a big donated item. When you’re packing you may as well go through and clean out your wardrobe.
What can we do as individuals? Even if you can’t volunteer or don’t have anything to donate, there are simple things that we can do according to Cardinal, Zachary and Ingerick.
“Get back to the basics from grade school about reduce, reuse and recycle,” Cardinal said and laughed a bit. “Don’t contaminate recycling bins. Don’t waste things you can recycle. Don’t get food you won’t eat. Don’t buy things you won’t use. Dining in, don’t get it to go when you’re not leaving the building.”
Ingerick mentioned this specifically: “Use refillable cups/mugs across campus. All coffee places have a flat rate of $2 for reusable mugs, regardless of size.” “Buy only what you need and only what you’ll use,” Ingerick says. “Recycle; try to change your mindset – think about if things can be recycled or reused.
“#BringYourOwn,” Zachary said as he showed me the sticker on his water bottle. “There’s no reason to buy bottled water; grab a reusable water bottle. I always carry mine with me.” He reiterated the same things as Cardinal and Ingerick: use less stuff when you can, stick with reusable items.