Office supply swap cuts waste

Upgrading office equipment or going paperless in a department can leave behind supplies that go unused. And unused supplies mean wasted money. So when the Employee Advisory Council received a request to implement an office supply exchange, the Precycle Kick-Off was born.

The EAC will host the swap meet from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 15 in the lobbies of Annex I, the Health Sciences Building, the Research & Education Building and the Dental School. Employees are encouraged to clean out supply closets and bring
unused and unneeded office supplies. Equipment still needs to go through normal surplus procedures.

“Precycle is associated with the movement to reduce waste before it happens. Examples include buying in bulk to save money, and avoiding items with excess packaging that would end up as landfill. This is relevant here because it is common
to find bulk deals on many of our consumables,” said Barbara Barton, who is organizing the event with Kevin Doyle, Maryann Dames McGrahey and the idea’s originator, Diana Flicek.

Flicek said the idea arose organically from her daily responsibilities as office manager for the Registrar’s Office. “With budget being on the forefront of everyone’s mind, we’re constantly looking for ways to save money,” Flicek said. She looked around at the toner cartridges that gathered dust as old equipment was replaced with new, and saw hundreds of dollars going to waste.
So she brought the idea to the Employee Advisory Council.

“Everybody’s very receptive throughout the enterprise,” Flicek said. “I hope the event will be with us for a long time.”

The Dec. 15 event will allow employees to pass on or pick up, for free, office supplies unwanted by other departments on campus. It promotes the exchange of items already in existence to extend their usefulness and keep them out of landfills. And there is a lot of money to be saved with events like this. The world’s premiere “precycling” organization, freecycle.org, reports that it moves more than 24,000 items per day through its nearly 7 million members. As a result, they keep 700 tons of materials out of landfills every day.

Future hopes for campus precycling include a website with an inventory of available items, and a section where departments can post items that are needed. But Barton urges employees to think before they buy, to help eliminate waste before it begins.

“You may be able to team up with other departments to buy in bulk,” she said. “It all comes down to cost savings. We have to save where we can.”

What can you swap?

Items to be shared include, but are not limited to: paper supplies, toner and ink cartridges, small office organizers and storage, folders and file folders, badge holders, whiteboard and bulletin boards, pens and markers, easels and presentation displays, envelopes and labels, tape, clips and rubber bands. Electronic equipment, such as printers and copiers, still need to go through normal surplus procedures.

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