Students and city residents foster healthier relationships through ‘freecycling’

Gracie Malley/Staff
The Bear-ly used recycling bazar held Saturday June 2nd in Civic Center Park is a way for community members to buy discounted furniture, appliances and other household items in good condition.

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UC Berkeley students and the city staff teamed up this weekend to provide students with a free way to recycle their used furniture and appliances while giving back to city residents.

The second annual Bear-ly Used Bazaar, held Saturday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, provided Berkeley locals a way to recycle everything from used couches to television sets to dining tables. The bazaar, an initiative of the Cal Move-Out Program, allowed students to pick up items in good condition from their homes and then resell them at affordable prices to community members and other students.

The Berkeley Student Cooperative also collaborates with the city to put on the program each year.

The program picked up furniture from approximately 150 student residences and from the 20 cooperatives around the city throughout the month of May, according to Adriana Haro, waste reduction coordinator for the cooperative and the event’s coordinator.

“Spring move-out is really hectic on the city and tends to also be really expensive for the city to take care of,” Haro said. “It’s a way for students to be more accountable for our own actions and getting students to realize … we are just part of an entity within the city.”

In a recent study published by campus and Stanford University researchers, participating in free exchange programs and gift-giving communities actually enhances the senses of solidarity and identification in a community, which in turn drives people to give more gifts in the so-called “freecycling” system.

Haro said that in order to build a healthier and more connected relationship between students and permanent city residents, the program was mainly trying to target residents to purchase the used goods.

“We have historically dumped our things on to (the city),” Haro said. “It was also one of the reasons the program was created — because of all the complaints.”

Skylar Schenk, who was the event’s handyman and repaired furniture and appliances before they were sold to customers, said he participated in the program because he did not want to see his waste polluting the city.

“It’s really helpful to take a bunch of junk stuff that you normally find out near the trash and resell it and actually use the profits for a good cause,” Schenk said.

The remaining items that were not purchased will be sold back to students in the fall at a second sale, and whatever remains after that will be donated to local charities, according to Haro.

The Cal Move-Out Program was developed by the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Student-Neighbor Relations in 2007 in order to lessen the amount of waste generated each spring when students move from on- and off-campus housing. The program is already planning to hold another bazaar next summer.

Anjuli Sastry is an assistant news editor.