Local News

University's trash becomes treasure for nonprofits

Posted August 30, 2009
Updated August 31, 2009

— North Carolina State University is celebrating a massive project that kept over a half-million pounds of furniture out of the landfill – and in use by people in need.

"We set a new standard,” said Jim Hansen, who handles surplus property for N.C. State.

N.C. State recycling project furnishes nonprofits N.C. State recycling project furnishes nonprofits

Hansen decided to call non-profit groups when the university replaced furniture in six dorm buildings. The school donated about 5,600 pieces of furniture which otherwise would have been thrown away.

“I just told them we had furniture available. That basically enabled us to get rid of everything but 15 desks,” Hansen said.

The donation also put thousands of desks, dressers and beds to good use.

"It is a wonderful opportunity not only to help the environment but also to help others in need,” said Barry Olson, associate director of N.C. State's University Housing.

Residents at the Durham Rescue Mission's Good Samaritan Inn, where some of the future went, said they are thankful.

"That makes me feel really good to know that there are others who see the need to help this place out,” said Brandolyn Bryson, Good Samaritan Inn resident.

"One man's trash is another man's treasure, so this is my treasure,” Good Samaritan Inn resident Nia Southerland said of the furniture.

As part of that renovation project, N.C. State installed energy-saving LED light fixtures in some dorm rooms. The university estimates the switch cut energy costs for lighting by about two-thirds.


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  • superman Sep 1, 2009

    spaminput-- I was referring to the state law as to disposal of equipment and furniture. It is on inventory and has to be accounted for at the time of disposal. It is really no different than the inventory of items a store has for sale. You cant just pick it up and give it away. One (1) person gets to decide what is "trash" They could select an antique desk from an adminstration office that could be very valuable and say it was trash and take it home. We may be hearing from this later on when the word gets out depending on if the state owned the furniture or who was the actual owner. Bottow line, state law decides how property is to be disposed of and giving it away is not one of the options. As to the smell of the room-- if I walked into your office (textilesvida) it would probably reak of your perfume which may or may not be appealing! Just because it smells good to you does not in any way mean that it smells good to everyone else.

  • Commenter Aug 31, 2009

    superman: That is exactly the argument that had them destroying and trashing the computers. State surplus wouldn't take them and with their leaky unheated warehouse the computers wouldn't have lasted long anyway. There is also a cartel of buyers at state surplus that will outbid anyone not in the cartel just to make competition go away.

    It seems to me that 99% of people will do the right thing and 1% will try to work some angle to make some money they shouldn't. The gov't and NCSU are so obsessed with trying to catch that 1% that they'll throw stuff in the trash rather than let any genuinely needy person or organization benefit.

    You have to remember that most of the stupid paperwork in which state government engages is to avoid being written up in the N&O.

  • mgratk Aug 31, 2009

    "University Housing at NCSU is self-liquidating so they make all their money off of charging rent in the dormitories. So none of your tax dollars were involved in this. royalnc"

    Did University Housing buy the land, build the buildings, and what about paying property tax and tax on income? I doubt it.

  • LocalYokel Aug 31, 2009

    I also have the question: why were we disposing of useful furniture? I don't like the process where Hansen gets to personally pick who receives the property by calling his favorite non-profits.

  • foetine Aug 31, 2009

    it is nice when the dorm room furniture isn't really old. We're talking about people who pay to live in these rooms and not prisoners. They upgrade every few decades. This is probably the "new" furniture I received back in '85.

    the university loses more money in the surplus scheme on most items versus if they just give it away.

  • onlymytwocents Aug 31, 2009

    Wow, really? This just occurred to them?

  • superman Aug 31, 2009

    I am not sure that what they did is legal. I worked in a school system and by law any and old furniture and equipment must be turned over to state surplus. When you start giving it away-- the company could turn around and sell it and make 100% profit-- plus how do you determine if the people receiving are worthy for lack of another word. It be easy for them to give it away to some of their buddies. Items like this should have to be turned over to state surplus where it is sold for whatever profit there might be. This type of giveaway program is much too easy to be misused. I think it would be legal to sell it at public auction-- but give away-- I dont think so!

  • smegma Aug 31, 2009

    now move to leftover food at restaurants

  • maydaymanny Aug 31, 2009

    I am upset they were not doing this in the past, but happy to hear they are doing it now. There is much more that can be recycled.

  • ncsuncsu Aug 31, 2009

    I applaud the University for recycling in this way. While the article says that the furniture was still serviceable, I've seen how rough students can be on these things. I feel what is acceptable furnishings for a homeless shelter vs rental situation are two different standards. Since the students are paying several thousand dollars a year for a furnished room, I imagine they expect the furniture to be in reasonable condition. Would anyone here go to the Hilton and be ok with a dresser missing a drawer, an entertainment center missing one of the doors, mismatched knobs on the furniture, or a desk that was water-stained and bubbling from years of abuse? I highly doubt it. Should the students pay to rent that kind of furniture?