Thousands of items up for grabs at annual free sale

May 16—Every year when students move out of the residence halls at SUNY Oneonta, they leave behind clothing, bedding, school supplies, furniture, kitchenware, decorations — much of which the Otsego ReUse Center scoops up for a free sale to keep the discarded items out of landfills.

The free community sale is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, May 22 at 23 Duane St. in Oneonta.

Staff from SUNY Oneonta and the ReUse Center will be letting people line up at 8 a.m.

Parking will be at the Moose Lodge building or on side streets.

People are encouraged to bring reusable bags, wagons or whatever is needed to shop effectively.

The sale will include everything under a white outdoor tent.

There will be some free memberships to the ReUse Center and its parent organization, The Arc Otsego, to give away thanks to sponsors.

Faith Tiemann, chief marketing officer at The Arc Otsego, said Thursday, May 16 that she anticipates there will be thousands of items available at the free sale.

Anything leftover will be donated to local nonprofit organizations, which will have the chance to peruse the items for their clients on Monday and Tuesday.

"There is little, if any, unclaimed items at the end of it all," Tiemann said.

The campuswide end-of-year move out item collection — now in its ninth year, partnering with the ReUse center for a fourth year — is an initiative that promotes sustainability in the residence halls.

According to SUNY Oneonta spokesperson Jill Shea-Feury, there were 2,800 students living in the 14 on-campus residence halls this year.

Students began packing up last week, but move out began in earnest this week as they finished their final exams.

SUNY Oneonta Associate Director of Sustainability Rachel Kornhauser has been facilitating collection sites in the dorm lounges and delivering the items by the vanload to the ReUse Center since Monday.

Kornhauser said that students can help reduce waste by donating items no longer needed, including nonperishable food and unused personal care items, instead of throwing them away.

Some of the items get claimed before hitting the ReUse Center, Kornhauser said.

Staff pick up box fans and mini-fridges for their offices. The campus tutoring center looks for certain textbooks. Nonprofit organizations have special items they want, like the Susquehanna SPCA will take mattress toppers and towels to use at the animal shelter, she said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the university rented extra dumpsters to accommodate all the stuff students would leave at end-of-year move out, but there is no longer the need to bring in extra dumpsters.

Shea-Feury said that representatives from Residence Life believe this is because students are donating more and getting rid of less than they did in previous years.

The campus sustainability office has created a program that identifies one RA in each residence hall to be a Building Sustainability RA.

These RAs make the residents aware of sustainability practices and events throughout the school year. This year, they conducted a green-certified dorm room competition that was well received, Shea-Feury said.

Some students are still throwing away reusable items in the trash instead of bringing them to the collection areas.

"It's just getting the word out" about the collection, Kornhauser said. "I look in the dumpster, and I can pull out full plastic sets of drawers. People are moving fast, they want to get out as fast as they can. Still, it's a lot of individuals, so letting everybody knows is just difficult. My big thing is just keeping it out of the landfill."