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Heroes

It started with a futon in a dumpster. Now this student org is changing how we see waste.

It started with a futon in a dumpster. Now it's a a nationwide resource that's changing the way students think about campus waste. Heck yes.

Alex Freid was moving out of his dorm after his freshman year of college when something caught his eye: a futon.

It was still in excellent condition, sticking out of a dumpster on his University of New Hampshire campus. "That's perfect!" he thought. "I can grab that futon and use it for my apartment next year."

Upon further inspection, he saw that the dumpster was chock full of usable items — and there were dozens of others just like it all over campus. What was up with all this "waste"?


Every year, millions of college students in the U.S. pack up and head off campus, leaving tons (literally) of stuff behind.

And only a small fraction of it really belongs in a dumpster.

So Alex and a group of his friends at the University of New Hampshire started a campus organization called Trash2Treasure.

Students pick out things at a move-in yard sale at the University of New Hampshire. Image by John Benford.

Here's how it works: They collect usable dumpster-bound items during move out in May.

They put everything in storage over the summer.

And then — here's the kicker — they sell it all back to the students the next fall at a yard sale.

How genius is that? Better yet, the money they make from the move-in sale cycles back into the program, allowing them to run it again the next year, too.

The move-in sale is HUGE. Image courtesy of UNH Trash2Treasure.

But move-out day isn't the only time colleges are producing a sh** ton of waste.

Spurred by the success of Trash2Treasure's move-out program, Alex founded a national nonprofit called the Post-Landfill Action Network, or PLAN. As they like to say, "When the only solution is a dumpster, everything looks like trash" — it's become a sort of motto for the group.

"When the only solution is a dumpster, everything looks like trash."

In part, PLAN's goal is to encourage students all over the country to set up programs that diminish waste on campus — move-out programs like the one led by Trash2Treasure at UNH, electronics recycling drop offs, compost programs, you name it.

But the arguably more important goal is to set up a national network of student groups within what PLAN calls the student-led zero waste movement. That way, no individual school has to reinvent the wheel.

PLAN resources walk through things like how to start a compost program. Image courtesy of PLAN.

“[PLAN has] been working with hundreds of students on campuses across the country," Alex told me, “and they're constantly asking the same questions."

Questions like: Whose approval do I need to start a compost program on campus? What should I use for bins? Who should collect the bins? Where will the compost go?

That's where PLAN comes in.

In 2015, PLAN raised more than $11,000 (111% of their original goal) to set up an online resource for students all across the country.

Since PLAN was founded in 2013, it has expanded to 50 campuses nationwide, and it's rapidly growing. But they want to make it even bigger — to take things online and create a massive online network of resources and information.

“A lot of campuses are constantly reinventing the wheel and creating the same documents, same resources, doing the same research," Alex said.

“Basically," explained Alex, “[It will be] an online space where students can collaborate and coordinate, discuss programs, develop logistics, upload and download resources for free, and share information with each other."

So, that move-out program that students run at UNH — Trash2Treasure? Things like that will be able to spread across the country so much faster, and so much more efficiently, than ever before. Now that is something to get excited about.

And in a way, it can all be traced back to that lonely futon in the dumpster after Alex's freshman year.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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