Successful Swapping

Office Supply Swap in Atrium

On a sleepy day at the end of July, the cavernous Atrium on the third floor of the College of Business Administration (CBA) hummed with activity. It was time for the Office Supply Swap, and cart-loads of shredders, paper clips, surge protectors, pens, and binders were arranged on long tables so that campus bargain hunters could sift through for needed items.

Jennifer Carter, office manager in New Student Services, immediately spied a sombrero while wheeling in plastic in/out boxes, a gently used lamp, and 10,000+ luggage tags.

“I’m keeping this!,” she said, wearing the hat out of the building. “It will protect my skin during our outside events.”

Carter estimates that her office saved about $75 in purchases—they picked up hanging files and legal pads—in addition to the “priceless” sombrero.

UT’s Office Supply Swap was started by a student organization, the Campus Environmental Center, in 2013 to reduce waste on campus. The idea is simple: if staff have a forum for cleaning out their closets as well as finding needed items, then the amount of material sent to the landfill is reduced.

This year, the swap was organized by the Office of Sustainability and Resource Recovery. Over 100 staff participated in the grand exchange, and, while a lot of material was redistributed to new offices, an enormous amount of material remained at the end of the swap.

“We had enough unclaimed office supplies to fill 2.5 box trucks, all of which was sent to UT Surplus Property,” said Brianna Duran, the student program coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. “This event was a success because of the participants but especially because of the help we received from McCombs School of Business and Surplus Property.”

Surplus Property maintains a warehouse at Pickle Research Campus that any employee can use as a resource for needed supplies. Over 2,000 tons of items, from tables to paper, are redistributed here annually.

“Events like the Office Supply Swap and use of the Surplus Property as a first stop when looking for new items help UT Austin achieve its zero waste goal,” said McKenzie Beverage, senior zero waste coordinator in Resource Recovery. “It was wonderful to see the level of enthusiasm from campus.”


Author: Kristin Phillips