Senior Maranda Duval gives recycling a new twist

Posted by Mariel Kennedy

Everybody's heard the phrase ‘one man's trash is another man's treasure,' and it's really true!

This is the mind set of Maranda Duval '11, the student behind Skidmore's new swap and go program, Freecycling.

Duval is an Environmental Studies major with a broad range of interests, including studio art, music and French.

In addition to being a student, Duval is a Dining Services student supervisor, a member of the Environmental Action Club, an Eco Rep and the music director of the Drastic Measures, Skidmore's charity, co-ed a cappella group.

Duval spent the past year abroad, studying with the International Honors Program "Rethinking Globalization" in Tanzania, India, New Zealand and Mexico, investigating the impacts of western development around the world.

Though she has no definite post-graduation plans as of yet, Duval has a selection of diverse opportunities that vary from working on an organic farm to working toward a master's of fine arts in vocal performance.

Duval's experiences with her major as well as abroad helped shape the idea for Freecycling.

Freecycling may be Skidmore's best-kept secret, though it is slowly becoming known around campus.

"Freecycling is what the name suggests: Free Recycling. It's simply the act of exchanging reusable items at no cost, which reduces the volume of waste that ends up in landfills," Duval said.

Duval believes the idea may have spawned from yard sales or local clothes swaps. She first heard of similar programs a few years back while researching low-impact lifestyles.

By following Google links, Duval discovered an online community devoted to Freecycling. The program has thousands of local groups and even more participants on a national scale.

Upon her arrival on campus this semester, Duval began to think of the amount of waste produced on Skidmore's campus each year. She says that number was 671 tons during the 2009-2010 school year — a large difference from our meager recycling rate, which is approximately 19 pecent.

It was then that Duval realized no system was available for students to free themselves from items that were in good condition but no longer wanted or needed.

"We recycle plastic, paper, glass and aluminum, so why not clothing, shoes or school supplies?" Duval said.

After speaking to several other students, Duval found that most were generally supportive and excited about bringing such a program to campus. From there, Duval and a friend found a way to put the plan into action.

The Freecycling table can be found in Case Center, just outside of the Game Room and across the hall from the Intercultural Center.

Students can bring clean and reusable items to leave on the table, or take any item they want.

It is completely free of charge, and you do not have to leave something to be able to take something.

"Acceptable items include clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories, school supplies, games, magazines, books and other miscellaneous trinkets that can be re-used, re-cycled and re-loved. Just make sure that everything is clean and functional," Duval said.

"The objective of Freecycling is to keep reusable items circulating among people who can use them in order to keep perfectly functional items out of landfills," Duval said, "Why throw things out when you can trade them for something better?"

Now that the table is set up and functional, Duval's goal is to help it gain recognition among students.

"Let your friends know. The more people who use the Freecycle table, the greater variety of stuff we'll have to swap. I hope that everybody in the Skidmore community will find his or her own use for the table, whether it's finding practical, everyday items like school folders, or finding crazy Halloween costumes."

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