By Rachel Morford, news co-editor
Hundreds of students waited for hours in a line that snaked around the second floor and down the stairway of the Curry Student Center on Sunday at the annual Trash2Treasure (T2T) sale, waiting to buy other students’ discarded decorations, lamps, microwaves, blenders and more at greatly reduced prices.
Each year, representatives from different Northeastern student organizations, including club sports, service groups, fraternities and sororities, volunteer with T2T to collect and move items that students have no space for or do not need at the end of spring semester. Collected items, which otherwise would have been discarded, range from hangers to televisions to kitchenware.
Food, bedsheets and various clothing, which do not qualify for sale, are separated from the items placed into storage and later donated to charities across Boston.
Shashank Hegde and Venkatesh Aghanash Karthik, freshmen technology systems management majors, arrived to the sale almost four hours early on the advice of seniors. The two left with two large bins worth of items. Aghanash Karthik said they found almost everything they were looking for.
“We didn’t get a shoe rack, but that is it,” Karthik said. “[The wait] was truly worth it.”
This year’s sale earned $11,361, said Kyle Varela, a junior civil engineering major and T2T’s president. These profits will be divided among the student groups that volunteered.
T2T was originally formed by the Husky Environmental Action Team in 2008, but this is the first year that it is acting as an independent student group, Varela said.
Despite this separation, T2T continues to keep environmentalism as a priority.
“This year we’re hoping to move to zero waste,” Varela said. “Even the trash that is donated gets sent to a specialized recycling facility. That way everything that goes through our room has a non-landfill destination.”
Having its own executive board allowed T2T to implement new initiatives, Varela said. For example, T2T accepted Husky Dollars at its sale for the first time this year.
“[This] essentially means we accept credit cards, as we have stations where students can go and just load up their ID cards,” Varela said.
Other additions included selling more valuable items in a silent auction the day before the main sale.
“Somebody donated a working Kindle Fire.” Varela said. “Usually, we’d sell this for like $5, but this year we’re going to try and increase the pay-out from some of these higher-ticket items,”
The items included in the silent auction would have normally sold for about $300, but when auctioned they sold for $800, Varela said. People used their husky cards to purchase $500 worth of items. Together these changes resulted in an additional $1,000 in profit.
In addition to focusing on the environmental impact of the event, the T2T executive board supports local Boston charities.
“I try to market Trash2Treasure volunteer opportunities as a way to meet new people and give back to the Northeastern and Boston communities,” said Caroline Angele, T2T’s director of marketing and a junior mechanical engineering major.
According to its website, this year, T2T donated 544 pounds of non-perishable foods to the Greater Boston Food Bank, 63 bags of clothing to Boomerangs, a thrift store whose proceeds go to the Massachusetts AIDS Action Committee, and more than three tons of unusable bedding and clothing material to textile recycler Planet Aid.
T2T also donates items left unbought at the end of the sale. According to T2T’s post-sale data, these items include 20 to 30 boxes of books, which will be donated to the nonprofit More Than Words, and approximately 75 boxes of other items to be donated to the Vietnam Veterans of America.
While T2T is a popular event, many students are unaware that the event supports student groups.
“A lot of what I do is try to get clubs involved, because it’s great for them, it’s great for our program – but some of them don’t always know about it,” said Sarah Braun, T2T’s vice president and a senior biology and geology double major.
Ellen Harsha, a sophomore health sciences major volunteering for T2T on behalf of the NU Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team, spoke highly of T2T’s payout to student groups.
“Last year the funds were used to travel to a tournament in California, and that was our first time going to the West Coast to play,” Harsha said. “California is like the best area in the country to play Ultimate Frisbee, so it was a pretty big deal for our club.”
Varela was satisfied with the results of T2T’s first independently-run sale. According to post-sale data, approximately 1,800 students participated and earned $2,000 more than was raised in the 2015 sale. Both of these numbers are records for the T2T sale, Varela said.
The next event on T2T’s calendar is The Husky Closet, a clothing drive providing free professional clothing to students preparing for co-op, Varela said.
According to a July Northeastern News article announcing the event, T2T partnered with Northeastern’s Career Development office, the Social Justice Resource Center and the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute “to help students build their professional wardrobes for the Fall Career Fair as well as future co-ops and job interviews.” The event will take place on Sept. 28 and 29.
As for the future of T2T, Varela hopes to initiate the newly-formed group into more activities throughout the year.
“We have to keep expanding.” Varela said. “It is a big time for Trash2Treasure.”
Photo by Rachel Morford