Annual residence move out saves over 1,600 kg of stuff from landfill

A table piled high with clothing, coffee makers and other items
A FreeStuff table in the Tatham Hall residence
A FreeStuff table in the Tatham Hall residence

During the course of the academic year, students in residence can accumulate a lot of stuff, only to realize that everything won’t fit into their backpack, suitcase or car when it’s time to leave for the summer. This used to result in a lot of things being left behind in the residence rooms – clothing, books, housewares – only to end up in the lost and found, or worse, the garbage bin. But thanks to the FreeStuff initiative, all of these things are getting a second life.

FreeStuff at York began in 2012 with a simple concept: tables and bins are set up in each of the residence lobbies during the month of April, where students can leave any unwanted items and take anything that they like. At the end of the month, everything leftover is donated to local non-profits, including Regenesis@York, a student group that operates ‘pop-up’ free stores on campus during the year, and the Oasis Clothing Bank, an agency that uses the items to help fund addiction recovery programs in the GTA.

This year, more than 1,600 kg of stuff was donated, not including the items that were shared and taken home by students. To put this in perspective, that’s more than the weight of a Toyota Prius.  In fact, over the past six years, the program has collected nearly 15,000 kg of items that might otherwise have ended up in the garbage or recycling.

“Since its first year of implementation, FreeStuff has been a great success here at York,” said Tim Haagsma, manager of grounds, fleet and waste with Campus Services and Business Operations. “The volume of items collected and kept out of the waste stream is impressive, and best of all, everything leftover benefits students and a local charity.”

The FreeStuff initiative is a partnership between Housing Services, Waste Management, Residence Life and the President’s Sustainability Council. For more information on FreeStuff and other sustainability initiatives, visit the Sustainability and Campus Services and Business Operations websites.