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Capstone class combats waste with Lloyd EcoSwap

Portland State University Capstone students teamed up with the Lloyd EcoDistrict, Community Environmental Services, and the Institute for Sustainable Solutions to host an EcoSwap event this August at National Night Out—an annual neighborhood event in the Lloyd district.

The Capstone course, taught by professor Barry Messer, focused on waste and materials management within the Lloyd EcoDistrict, which is located in Northeast Portland.

The event served as a pilot program to uncover the kinds of materials that businesses and residents accumulate, and have no idea what to do with them when they’re no longer useful. At the EcoSwap—set up to collect shoes, art and office supplies, vinyl materials, and coats—people were encouraged to take what they wanted, and the leftover materials were collected by designated organizations that had the means to reuse or recycle them.

“Sure, you can drop off your stuff at Goodwill, but where does it really end up, and at what price? It’s nice to know exactly where your stuff is going and that someone will get a good use out of it,” said Bill Thompson, a student in Messer’s class.

PSU’s Architecture School claimed the vinyl banners that were collected at the EcoSwap. Office and art supplies went to the PSU ReUse Room. Old tennis shoes and coats were donated to Central City Concern to go to the homeless. The majority of the shoes and coats collected during the EcoSwap were adopted right away on site.   

Participants were surveyed to find out what materials they would like to bring in to the next event. Common items reported were electronics, clothing, and kitchen supplies.       

“The whole point is to intercept materials before they head to the landfill, and find a home for them. We live in an era where stuff is everywhere, and we need to start finding innovative alternatives to the garbage can,” said Gabriel Rousseau, another PSU student.

The EcoSwap event will be first of many more programs to help connect the community in managing their materials. In addition to planning and producing the event, students met with many businesses and residents of the Lloyd EcoDistrict, sparking many conversation about alternatives to the landfill and strategies for waste reduction.

Students Madilynn Bishop (left), Katie Davis, and Levi Winkler.

For more information on the EcoDistrict visit