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The Exeter Exchange Promotes Reuse

Students collect, receive, sort and tag all items sold at the new used goods store, the Exeter Exchange

June 10, 2008

When school begins again on September 5, the Exeter Exchange will open, well-stocked with last year's goods ready to be scooped up for almost nothing. The new on-campus store, which opened April 23 in the Davis Center, takes in unwanted, reusable items for resale, providing them with a new life and a new owner.

Clothing, shoes, books, school supplies, posters, rugs, furniture, clock radios, CDs, DVDs, and other items are collected by Exeter's Environmental Proctors (E-Proctors), sorted and sold to the PEA community.
 
Now closed for the summer, the Exchange is operated during the school year entirely by students. This spring, it opened on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons. During its first months, it earned more than $300, all donated to relief efforts for the recent earthquake in China. E-Proctors will determine where future donations will go.

When school ended this year, a team of E-Proctors, along with Jennifer Wilhelm, Exeter's Sustainability Coordinator, hauled away truck loads of items to be sold in the fall.

"Almost everything we found in a dorm room will be sold and used again," says Wilhelm. "This is another way to promote the concept of sustaining our resources." 

Known to some as a secondhand store and to others as an extension of the Academy's recycling program, the Exchange "serves as a facilitator and forum for reuse." Alexander, a senior from Bellevue, WA, says the Exchange reflects a shift in mentality and offers a venue for necessary goods.

"Used goods or secondhand stores often bring up the image of selling dingy, low-quality items. Here, this isn't the rule. We want to show that secondhand items at the Exchange are often of high quality and no different than in a regular store. Purchasing used goods is much more environmentally friendly. Here, we show that products have life cycles much longer than expected and are still very usable," he says.

Sarah, a senior from Rye, NH, says she has seen firsthand the enormous amount of perfectly good items left behind. "Three summers ago, I helped move items left by students out of dorm rooms, and it was amazing, I mean absolutely mind-blowing, the kind of things and the volume of stuff that was left behind. Some of it was sent to Goodwill and other donation organizations, but a lot of it would have been best used if it were recycled by others on campus," she says.

While the Exchange isn't designed to make a profit, Sarah explains that the E-Proctor board didn't want to simply give away all the stuff it acquires.

"We are charging a nominal fee, extremely low, because we don't want students to take something just because it's free," she says.

The Exchange also collects and sends out used batteries and old CDs for recycling. Ultimately, E-Proctors hope the store serves as a resource center, where old and ready-for-recycling items generated by students, staff and faculty will be brought and housed.

"I think the Exchange and the people involved in it bring a lot of enthusiasm to our sustainability program. And I'm really excited about that. It offers a lot of benefits, not just personal, but also for the environment. It's a lot of fun," Sarah says.

Learn more about Exeter's sustainability initiatives...