Red high heels, flower vases, computer monitors, office chairs, coffee makers—just a few of the items free for the taking at the SoMa Reuse Fair and Community Share on August 1 at the Portland State University Urban Plaza.
The fair was organized and hosted by students in Barry Messer’s Senior Capstone course in collaboration with the SoMa EcoDistrict, the PSU Campus Sustainability Office, and the Institute for Sustainable Solutions to study and promote creative waste diversion methods on a neighborhood scale.
“We’ve done a lot of work this year to promote reuse on campus. Events like this help create a culture of reuse—it normalizes the behavior,” said Tony Hair, waste management coordinator for PSU’s Campus Sustainability Office.
Students worked closely with residential and commercial buildings in the SoMa neighborhood to collect donations of furniture, office supplies, household goods, books, and clothes. SoMa is bordered by SW Market St. to the north, SW Harbor Dr. to the east, and I-405 to the south and west. Students placed donation bins in the lobby of University Pointe, CH2M Hill’s Parkside Center, and PSU’s Business Accelerator building. People also brought donations to the Urban Plaza throughout the Reuse Fair.
The class plans to develop a Reuse Fair how-to guide to encourage SoMa and other districts in Portland to host regular reuse swaps.
“I’m learning so much from this event,” said Thea Kindschuh, a Capstone student who also works as the PSU ReUse Room coordinator. “It's exciting to see so many community members participating, and having a toolkit going in to the next event will help significantly—we did this one pretty much from scratch.
Leftover office supplies will be taken to the PSU ReUse Room. Clothing, household goods, and furniture will be donated to local charities.
In May, the PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions’ announced SoMa as one of its neighborhood partners in the Sustainable Neighborhood Initiative. The initiative aims to better coordinate and expand faculty and student engagement with sustainability issues in local neighborhoods.