SOU students' 'junk' is free for the taking

ASHLAND — Every June, two 25-yard Dumpsters are dropped off at Southern Oregon University and filled with all the things students don't want to take with them as they check out of the residence halls and leave for the summer.

Books, furniture, clothes, office supplies, food, appliances and more are tossed into the Dumpsters, much of it still useful and in some cases even unused.

This year, however, things will be different, at least if Christina Becker gets her way.

Becker, a senior at SOU majoring in Environmental Studies, has been coordinating with SOU staff, students and members of the community to hold a "Diversion Excursion" from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, June 10.

It would essentially be a big, free flea market where students donate unwanted items instead of throwing them away.

"There are people out there in our community who need the things you throw away," said Becker. "It will be like a massive free garage sale, which I think will be pretty fun."

Coordinating with the Central Point-based Jackson County Master Recycling Program and the SOU Residential Life and Housing Department, Becker plans to rent U-Haul trucks and collect donated items from students as they move out of the residence halls throughout finals week.

On June 10, a flea market will be held in front of the Stevenson Union building, where people can browse and take what they want. Anything left over after the market will be donated to Goodwill.

"I'm hoping students will see that part of the incentive is coming down to the SU and looking at all this cool, free stuff," said Becker. "I just want to make sure they have the opportunity to donate before they head out for the summer."

The "Diversion Excursion" is part of the Waste Management Initiative, a multi-step program the SOU student government put in place to improve recycling efforts on campus and reduce the university's overall waste.

The flea market falls under the "education" part of the initiative, in which students are encouraged to learn more about recycling and how to reduce their carbon footprint.

"Normally "… they order two extra Dumpsters to throw out stuff the students leave behind," said Becker. "At least one and a half of those Dumpsters can be saved. It will reduce the costs that the school pays for waste disposal.

"I think students nowadays are aware of these problems, and they want to do something about it," said Becker. "SOU markets itself as a green school, and this is a way of building community and sharing materials.

"If it goes well, then we'll do it again next year," she said.

Nils Holst is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

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