A look inside R2ePack, by Stephanie Heatley-Quinlan
Ever wonder who picks up all the stuff left behind in the donation boxes when the students leave for the summer or for that matter where it goes? Tufts Recycles! is here to clear your confusion! It all takes place in steps; after all you’re not the only one who left stuff behind. Starting at 12 Dearborn working all the way up through Latin way, Professors Row to West, Hill and finally Miller, over a two week period, Tufts Recycles! hits them all. Our team is not the only ones that have work to do once students flee for summer. During our cleanup, health and safety checks are made, work orders arranged and large amounts of cleaning are scheduled campus wide. UGL employees work long hard days in the heat vacuuming, sweeping, waxing and turning dorm rooms into a brand new beginning for the next coming scholar. Tufts Facilities Services works hard to ensure that students have a safe new environment to move into come September. No corner is left untouched, or issue unresolved- a huge thanks is to be spread campus wide to all that put in efforts to maintain and ensure that Tufts produces the happy healthy environment advertised and promised in our brochures.
Cleaning, sorting, and moving what students left behind is no easy process. Every large job starts somewhere and for Tufts Recycles! it all begins with clear trash bags. Clear trash bags with which we stuff our pockets high, taking our bags we start with the large freecycle and clothing bins located in common rooms, lobby ways, and entranceways depending upon the location. A good amount of materials are intermixed so a lot of needs to be sorted. No reusable material gets left behind! Sharp items like pencils, cords, knives, even toys burst open our bags leaving us no choice but to double up the bag and take caution moving it to the truck. After bagging everything in the boxes, we carry our full trash bags to the truck which is either a rented U-Save or a Facilities Services truck. After a day of this job I’d say our crew’s exempt from the gym for the next week! We work our way through every box, hitting every dormitory. After the final closing date post-commencement, we start going through rooms and floors. The rooms are always a surprise; you truly never know what you’re going to stumble across. We find everything from rooms that are spotless to rooms you’d question whether or not the student actually left. We take foam, sheets, clothes, hangers, storage, rugs, shampoo, sealed food, and mirrors. You hear the cliché saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” the saying couldn’t be more accurate. Tufts is a top college with many interesting students. Just from working here I’ve had coworkers from Utah, Puerto Rico, California, New York, and even Italy! Most of them fly home and are limited to the airport’s 50 pound luggage weight limit, forcing these students to leave materials behind. The ones that drive are limited to what they can compile in their car. In both situations, materials get left behind, even sometimes brand new things. The rest just needs a little 409 or Clorox to save the day! Our efforts aren’t just for the mere fun of what you’ll come across next, they are to reduce, reuse, recycle and help incoming students save a few bucks.
So now you know what we take; what do we do with it? All of our stuff we find gets transported to our warehouse located on Boston Ave. It is here that we sort and compile everything into specific locations. All of the hangers go to a specific section (we actually have what looks like a mountain,) all of the storage bins go to another, foam, mirrors, cleaning supplies, dining supplies; you get the picture. Throughout the week we work as a team, making sure there is not one room or corner overlooked. Nearing the end of the week, we have gone through all of the dormitories and are left with the houses, where the same process. This is where we separate as the houses are much smaller. About two will go out with our boss, Dawn and our driver to finish up; the rest will work in the warehouse deciphering what is reusable, what goes where, and what should be Freecycled.
Anything that is Freecycled is put aside for a campus event that will take place at the end of August; just before the freshman have their move-in Target trip. Incoming freshman will be encouraged to attend our event and take what they need. This saves you from spending money on a storage container or clothing hangers that cost you about twenty to thirty dollars, depending upon how many you buy. Part of our sorting process is to recycle old and broken, often duct-taped materials and save the best ones for Freecyling. Freecycling saves money and reuses goods (Reuse is the first R!). Just because someone else used it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work the exact same way and serve the exact same purpose as the shiny new one on a store shelf.
This is not the only reusable event that arises from our move out repack. All clothes found are bagged and thrown into a rented trailer to store and transport all of our findings to Baystate Textiles. This company gives us 6 cents per pound of clothes we give. In the end, this system results in about five hundred dollars that we take and put towards the Tufts Community Service Fund, not to bad! All non-perishable, unopened food is donated to a Somerville food bank that gives groceries to local families less fortunate. All rugs are donated to a nearby Salvation Army that sells them at lower prices in order to provide for people that potentially don’t have the money to spend on new. In the end, anything we can save or reuse Tufts Recycles! puts in the extra effort to do so thus resulting in a lot more good that is seen by the naked eye.