This past 2012 Spring Quarter, while concluding my sophomore year of higher education, I began working a new job. My landlord offered me a maintenance/landscaping position to extend throughout my time renting from her. My landlord, and now boss, Caroline, operates and partially owns Best of Athens Rentals. Annually, the weekend of spring graduation is a time where many students leases come to an end and must move out of their rented home. The Monday after graduation begins the week of preparing these homes to be filled by new incoming tenants—this is where my job starts to come into play.
During this grace week, anything left behind in the houses must be removed in order to allow the incoming tenants to have a freshly cleaned and sanitary home to move into, free of any noticeable existence of prior tenants. During this week, my co-worker and I made our way to all the temporarily vacant houses around Athens to remove all items left behind—inside and outside. For some reason, students seem to dislike getting their security deposit back and would rather pay for us to come remove items left behind in their homes. As you can imagine, just about anything can be found left abandoned in a college student’s home. Couches, futons (lots of futons), recliners, a variety of porch furniture, desks, dressers, random bags of trash and alcohol containers, beer pong tables, entertainment centers, broken televisions, outdated large tube televisions, dishes and silverware, mattresses, bathroom products—the list of things left behind continues.
During this removal process, we are prompted to either take any items that we would like to personally own, or if they are of no value to us then they are to be thrown away into dumpsters to be hauled out to sit in a nearby landfill. Of course my co-worker and I obtained a lot of usable porch furniture and other random assorted items, but what about the rest of the things that are thrown away? Granted there were a lot of items that were soon salvaged by local community members as they are fully aware of the amount of things thrown away during this week. In retrospect, it had not occurred to me that rather than throwing items in the dumpster that rather they could be donated to local thrift and second-hand stores. Sure, some of the items would be deemed non-reusable by most people, but there was still a significant portion of items that could be recovered and given a good, new home. By donating items locally, we can hypothetically generate revenue to Athens by selling them back to the public as opposed to just letting them go to waste. Second-hand stores are always accepting donations and some will even come pick the items up for you and save you the trip of delivery.
Similarly to this, over this past Christmas break my maintenance supervisor and I were doing some bathroom and bedroom renovations on Stimson Avenue. After placing numerous floor joists and wall studs outside of the property, it was recommended that we donate, (rather than pointlessly fill our dumpsters) usable pieces of wood to local Reuse Industries in nearby Albany, Ohio. Albany is the only site that accepts reusable wood, although their Athens thrift store accepts donations of reusable carpet, clothes, electronics, metals, paints, televisions, and furniture.
Aside from donating possessions left behind from tenants and usable materials from demolition, the amount of trash thrown away during this week that was picked up by hand could have easily been recycled– avoiding filling up our landfills. The cardboard, paper, glass, and cans could have all been separated and recycled. Rather, we picked them all up and threw them into trash bags that further were put in to our dumpsters. As I look ahead to this summer, I intend to discuss these issues with my landlord and put forth more sustainable efforts throughout my job.
If interested in donating, Athens Reuse Industries Thrift Store is located at the following address:
100 Columbus Road
Athens, Ohio, 45701
By phone: 740-594-5103
Hours of Operation: Monday-Saturday, 9am-6pm