I realize as September begins and students move into residence and new apartments that this saying is forgotten. The feelings of new beginnings overwhelm us and we decide to rid ourselves of last year’s Ikea furniture (because hey, we are getting the largest store in North America!) and make room for the new. I spent a chunk of this morning pulling “junk” from a dumpster in front of Brooks residence complex with the reward of saving numerous cardboard boxes from the trash along with two mirrors, a shelving unit and a few other assorted goods.
My first question/cry of outrage was, “Who in their right mind throws out a perfectly intact full-length mirror?” The response I received from Jon and Brigitte was that students that are moving just don’t know what to do with these things. I already knew this, after seeing the tonnes of material we saved from being tossed (and instead donated to local charities) but, still!
I look around my room with a sense of pride- my full length mirror was my sister’s old roommate’s and I salvaged it from being tossed, a wicker chair and wooden side table from the Dump and Run this year sit in the corner. Beside my bed sits a nightstand left from previous tenants that I stained a darker colour. My desk was found on one of my runs; carried back and painted black because it was once an obnoxious pink, and a black modern ladder-looking shelf that a neighbour was tossing now holds my books. I cannot even calculate the amount of money I saved; not to mention the amount of “junk” that my bedroom has managed to reuse makes me wonder how much space we could be saving in landfills if all students weren’t so picky about their furniture being trendy and new.
I am certainly not saying we have to pull a Thoreau and peace out to Walden Pond to live off the land and eliminate our footprint completely but borrowing some of these concepts and values from our good friends Thoreau and Malthus ("The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man..”) and recognize that consuming and discarding our items in such a way cannot be sustained. Gather your roommates and walk the streets of Sandy Hill this upcoming week and I guarantee that among the rotting couches you will find some furnishings.