by Kate O’Farrell, UVM Community News Service
CRAFTSBURY – The Re-use Room at Sterling College, in partnership with the Helpsy organization, recently hosted a fundraiser that defied expectations for both the college and the greater Northeast Kingdom area.
The Re-use room at Sterling College is a place for students to donate and take items to avoid creating unnecessary waste. The room provides an alternative to throwing away materials and, instead, creates a cycle of re-use for students at the college. Elizabeth Faling, an employee with the ReUse Room, said that the program is “just getting people to re-use some items,” rather than adding to the landfill.
The program has significant participation from the Sterling College community. “Every day I go in, there are donations,” said Faling. However, the program is looking to improve and refurbish its space, as well as look toward a future of sustainability and re-use at the college.
On Saturday, Oct. 16, the college held its fundraiser with the help of the Helpsy organization. Helpsy is a textile recycling company that takes unwanted textiles and re-uses them as insulation, rags, and reintroducing some materials into the second-hand clothing market. Sue Wingert, a representative from Helpsy, described the for-profit organization as “Using business as a force for good” through their textile recycling.
Faling commented on the nature of textiles, saying that “it’s incredible how much waste comes from textiles.” Textile waste is significant in the United States. The EPA estimated that the average citizen will discard 81 pounds of textiles annually. “Eighty-five percent of that could be saved,” said Wingert.
This was the first fundraiser of its kind for the ReUse room, and the success was far beyond the staff’s expectations. The ReUse Room collected over 7,000 pounds of textiles from community members from Craftsbury and beyone. The ReUse Room raised $612.38 for their program, money that Faling hopes will refurbish the space and allow for “what our students and the smaller community needs from the ReUse Room.”
The fundraiser was for the ReUse Room, but the turnout from the wider Northeast Kingdom community proved that the college was not the only one benefitting from the drive. People came from as far as Montgomery to drop off unwanted items. The need for textile recycling was evident, as there aren’t many resources for textile recycling and re-use in the area. Faling spoke about the hopes for the money for the Reuse program, saying, “Right now, the Re-Use Room is outfitted with things that have been donated to us.” The staff hopes to use the money from the fundraiser to add more shelving to the ReUse room and continue momentum for more fundraisers like this one in the future.
Said Faling, “It was really wider than just Craftsbury.”To learn more about Helpsy, visit helpsy.co. Information about the ReUSe Room can be found at sterlingcollege.edu.