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Changes come to Rummage in the Ramp

BY GIRINDRA SELLECK | JULY 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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Students and Iowa City residents seeking deals at the city’s ninth-annual Rummage in the Ramp will notice some changes to this year’s event.

Rummage in the Ramp is a city-sponsored event designed to minimize the hundreds of pounds of recyclable material dumped into the Iowa City Landfill each year.

The event functions as a large garage sale; items are donated and sold with prices anywhere from $1 to $30. Common donations include furniture, electronics, and household items.

One of the primary changes to this year’s rummage is the addition of food vendors.

Jennifer Jordan, the city recycling coordinator and a founder of Rummage in 2007, said the event seeks food vendors to feed the thousands of people who attend.

Normally, street vendors are required to obtain an official license from the City Manager’s Office to be able to sell their food, but the Rummage is an exception to the rule, and interested vendors can simply show up and request a spot.

“It’s nice and very informal,” Jordan said. “We’re pretty much saying, ‘Come feed us.’ ” 

Another new component to the program is the Rummage ReDux — a collaboration with local artists in which old, defunct donated furniture is up-cycled into new pieces to be used in the home or exhibited in the community in the coming months.

With last year’s event boasting an attendance of 3,000-plus shoppers, 700 donors, and 200 volunteers, this year’s additions could spell another record year for the Rummage.

The event has grown greatly since its début in 2007. When it started, Jordan said, there were two days of sales. That has since expanded into 10 days beginning Friday and finishing on Aug. 2.

As the summer rolls to a close and a new academic year looms on the horizon, students and other residents begin to move from one residence to the next, and this process comes with a number of pitfalls, including increased garbage production.

Simon Andrew, an administrative analyst in the City Manager’s Office, said the city holds the rummage during the landfill’s peak fill rate, when the most garbage is deposited.

“That last week of July and the first week of August are when the landfill gets hit the hardest,” he said.

During this time, the large majority of the items dumped are recyclable and can easily be repurposed.

“Anything we can do to divert from the landfill in that window really helps,” Andrew said.

He noted the importance of conservation and recycling, and he said the rummage helps to solve the problem of garbage production.

“It saves the city money in terms of what goes into the landfill, and even more importantly, it increases the materials recycled and the overall awareness of the ability to recycle,” he said.

Jordan said the increase in the numbers of volunteers and sponsorships by nonprofit organizations were instrumental in the program’s expansion. This year there are a record 38 nonprofit groups involved, 13 of which were organized by University of Iowa students.

“The addition of those student groups is something I’m particularly proud of,” Jordan said. “It’s a great outreach, because primarily, the people moving at this time of year are students.”

One such group is the UI Urban Planning Student Association, headed by president and second-year UI graduate student Beth Rumpza.

“[Jordan] is a graduate of the [Urban & Regional Planning] program, too, and since she started organizing the event, we’ve been involved as well,” Rumpza said.

The rummage was mutually beneficial, she said, because it helps her organization and others similar to it raise money for various events they put on throughout the year while continuing to improve the community’s recycling sensibility.

Rumpza and Jordan are excited about the changes coming for the Rummage.

“I think [the food trucks] bring a lot of attention to the event that just hadn’t been there before,” Rumpza said.

“At the end of the day, it’s a win for everybody,” Andrew said. “It saves the city money, it helps social services, and it allows us as a community to do our part in improving our environmental awareness.”


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