Rummage in the Ramp starts today, focuses on sustainability

BY JOE HITCHON | JULY 27, 2012 6:30 AM

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While some would consider hauling heavy couches and bookshelves in the heat of summer to be rather unpleasant, Rummage in the Ramp is designed to be a convenience for those arduous lease changeover days at the end of July.

“Such a large portion of the student population lives off campus, and when those leases come up Aug. 1, this is a great opportunity for those moving out to donate their reusable household items for someone who is moving in,” said Liz Christiansen, the director of the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability.

Along with providing cheaper, secondhand alternatives on household furnishings for apartments, the initiative also aims to benefit low-income families and any other residents looking for great deals on household items.

The event — which takes place in the Chauncey Swan parking ramp — also serves as an important fundraising opportunity for the 32 local nonprofit environmental and student groups whose members will staff the event and will divide the profits of the sales.

“We will be helping with the distribution of all the donations, whether it’s checking items in and out, or helping people carry purchases to their car, or loading a couch — whatever might be needed,” said Ashley Wahlert, volunteer coordinator with Habitat for Humanity. “It’s also a great fundraiser, and we receive part of the proceeds, which helps with our projects throughout the year.”

Since it began in 2007, the annual event serves as a benefit to the city not only for its waste reduction and sustainability attributes but also for the opportunity it provides for building partnerships with the dozens of community groups involved.

Landfill officials say any amount of material that can be diverted from ending up in the Landfill is preferable, and that can even prevent unexpected problems from occurring down the line.

“Waste reduction keeps things out of the Landfill period, and if we don’t have things ending up in the landfill that don’t need to be there, then bad things like the Landfill fire can’t happen,” said Jennifer Jordan, the Iowa City Landfill recycling coordinator.

Volunteers will be on hand to inspect and help unload all reusable items; they will be looking for usable furniture, beds, frames, box springs, household items, kitchen appliances, books, nonperishable foods, and electronics.

While the event will only run for nine days, July 27–Aug. 4, the organizers stress that during the rest of the year there are also plenty of places and business offering secondhand items in which people can either buy or donate their reusable materials.

“Reduce, reuse, and recycle efforts are all year round,” Jordan said. “People don’t often think of buying secondhand as a sustainable activity because they are not considering the environmental costs of shipping new products across the world.  One of the most sustainable things people can do is reuse their materials and buy secondhand.”

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