Exeter is coming to a close and you will soon be on your way back to see your family and friends this Friday, August 5th. You will be clearing out everything in your dorms, but we ask you not to throw away the things you don’t want and to instead, recycle them — for the sake of this earth and community benefiting organizations.

You may realize that you no longer need that geometry workbook or that extra phone charger, but you should not throw them away. Exeter has a new program called “Trash to Treasure”, led by Exeter Summer and regular session teacher Jason BreMiller.

So, what is Trash to Treasure? It is an organization that helps Exeter divert unwanted items away from the landfills and get the material into the hands of people who will benefit from them.

How did Trash to Treasure start and become an organization? “ A group from the University of New Hampshire started an organization called “Plan Post-Landfill Action Network” a couple of years ago as a way to orchestrate a zero-waste dormitory clean out, Mr. BreMiller explained.

In the past at UNH, the school brought in forty-yard green dumpsters and during cleanout, the students, in the rush to leave, just threw their unwanted items into the dumpsters, which brought everything directly to a landfill. After this UNH organization was started, landfill waste was largely reduced, and earth and community friendly actions were taken.

“So, Exeter partnered with ‘Plan’ this year to learn their system for zero waste dorm cleanout,” Mr. BreMiller said. “And we decided to try to implement it this spring, calling it Trash to Treasure.”  

“In early June during dorm cleanout, the Exeter regular session students collected all of this material that otherwise would have been thrown away in the landfill — clothing, toiletries, shoes, dining hall ware, electronics, books — and stored everything in The Exchange, which is this student thriftshop,” explained Mr. BreMiller. After the regular session students left, a giant pile of salvageable materials was left over, valued at tens of thousands of dollars, and ready to sell back to the community.

“There’s like 500 pairs of shoes down there and like 40 printers,” said Mr. BreMiller. “So the idea is that the revenue from the sale will go into the cost incurred in the following year’s Trash to Treasure program — like hiring moving trucks, hiring a storage bin if we need it. There are a number of local partnerships like a woman’s shelter in Portsmouth which will take all of our toiletries that come in. The Exchange also works with a group in Haiti that will take any of the clothes that won’t sell and get them into the hands of the people who need it.”

Some Summer School classes and clusters have already helped greatly by sorting through piles of items to prepare for the sale that the regular session will host in the fall. But what can you do to help make this program more successful and helpful to the community? You can put any of your unwanted items into the labelled bins in your dorms! Your unwanted fan or the sweatshirt that won’t fit in your suitcase can help benefit the earth as well as those in need around you. Your items will be collected to resell, donate, recycle, and help the earth.