Students at Warren Wilson College travel from all over the globe to learn, work and serve here. They lug trunks and suitcases full of belongings to campus for the academic year. It can be overwhelming come springtime when it’s time to move out of residence halls; the amount students accumulate throughout a year can be quite astounding. When it’s time to pack up for summer, our students never fear; when in doubt, we free-pile it!
A free pile is just what it sounds like. The Recycling Crew designates a bin in each residence hall for students to use as their free pile. The free piles allow students to recycle their unwanted clothes, school supplies, toiletries, cookware and other household items. The Recycling Crew makes rounds to the residence hall free piles to collect mildly used items. After the items are collected, crew members sort them and place them at Warren Wilson’s Free Store.
“I love this place,” says a Free Store shopper with a recycled notebook and a pair of new headphones in hand. “I come almost everyday to see what new things have been added. It’s crazy sometimes, all the cool stuff I find.”
“I like that I can easily get rid of clothes and pick up new things simultaneously,” sophomore Cady Davis says. ”It’s a good alternative to just throwing your things in the garbage.”
The end of the school year is the busiest time for the Recycling Crew. As students prepare to move out of residence halls for the summer, free piles accumulate pounds and pounds of things to be recycled. So much, in fact, that our Free Store can not hold all of it. Bryson Gym, home of our climbing wall and weekly contra dance, is used as the temporary holding center for the recycled goods.
During the first week of summer break, the Recycling Crew organizes the recycled clothing, shoes, bedding and household items into orderly piles and racks. Bryson Gym is then opened to the campus community and later, to the public. Treasure hunters come to Bryson Gym with their shopping bags in hand.
This year at the Bryson Free Store, the community took 4.3 tons of recycled goods, that’s 8,551 pounds! The majority of the items, totaling 6,694 pounds, were taken on opening day. These totals do not account the items taken from our permanent Free Store or from residence hall free piles. At the end of the week our Recycling Crew donated to Goodwill what wasn’t taken: 146 pounds of clothing. Furniture is distributed to the community via Craigslist advertisements.
The end of the spring semester leaves much work to be done by the College’s Recycling Center. Without the Free Store and the Recycling Crews careful sorting and collecting, most of these items would end up in the landfill. The Free Store is open to the campus community all summer, and new items are added each day.
Story by Emma Luster ’16, a member of the Media Crew