campus news and events

ReChargers Event Aims to Curb Throwaway Culture on Campus; Boston Globe Recognizes Effort

When students move out of Colby-Sawyer College each spring, they discard dorm supplies that just moments before were useful items. Thanks to the efforts of students in the Sustainability Core Club's ReChargers group, these items will no longer be left in dumpsters destined for landfills. They have been reclaimed and will be sold to incoming students this fall.

Colby-Sawyer will hold the ReChargers Resale Event, the college's first organized effort to sell reusable items left behind by the graduating class to incoming and returning students at low prices, at the Mercer Hall Gymnasium on Sunday, Sept. 7 and Monday, Sept. 8, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Leading the initiative with the guidance of Recycling Program Coordinator Janet St. Laurent, Environmental Science major Kenny Camacho '15 credits students' enthusiasm for the program with a campus visit from Alex Fried, founder of the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN). Through PLAN, a nonprofit organization that aims to spread the reuse initiative in college campuses by teaching students about the approach and offering advice and resources, Fried led a presentation last spring on landfill waste and the reuse initiative.

Student-led tracking of waste volumes from 2007 through 2009 revealed that each year, the college produces the highest tonnage of monthly waste for that year in May. “We have termed the phenomenon the 'May spike,'” explains Director of Sustainability and Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Jennifer White '90. “Dumpsters [are filled] to the brim with reusable items, which this initiative hopes to recapture and resell in order to cut the amount of waste shipped to landfills.” Items that remain unsold at the end of the event will be either donated to local charities and thrift shops or recycled.

“[Environmental Studies major Jon Wylie '14] had closely worked with Fried during the initiative's collection phase,” says Camacho. “[After graduation], several student volunteers stayed back to retrieve items from dumpsters and drop-off locations around campus for summer storage. Student volunteers who arrived early this semester have been cleaning, sorting, testing and pricing the collected items and prepping them for resale.”

Camacho and the ReChargers have collected more than a ton of reusable items, including clothing, storage units, televisions, mini fridges, bed risers, carpets and other items for resale. They hope to reduce and eventually eliminate the throwaway culture that pervades the campus at the end of each academic year. “We need to stop treating what we don't personally want as trash. It is this selfish thinking that has created the waste problem here and around the world,” says Camacho.

Planning for the long-term, both St. Laurent and Camacho envision a year-round thrift store on campus where students could buy and sell reusable items. “It would be a student-run, interdisciplinary approach to rethinking our waste, bringing in students from all majors to sustain the effort,” says Camacho.

An article published in the Boston Globe on Tuesday, Sept. 2, recognized student-run efforts toward reducing landfill waste at Colby-Sawyer and other campuses.

For more information on the college's green initiatives, programs and progress, visit

-Anurup Upadhyay '15

Anurup Upadhyay is a business major at Colby-Sawyer College and a student writer for College Communications.

Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Learn more about the college's vibrant teaching and learning community at

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000