Dartmouth's First Sustainability Moving Sale

Started by students, this annual sale attracts crowds of bargain hunters during orientation week.

Well before sunup bargain hunters started lining up on Tuck Drive, waiting for Dartmouth’s annual rite of autumn—the sustainable moving sale—to open for business. Dozens of first-year students and their parents apparently didn’t mind losing sleep to get first dibs on dorm necessities and decor donated by graduating seniors and other students who have moved off campus. Founded by students in 2006, it is still student-run with the help of volunteers.

“We’ve got at least 300 mini-fridges out here,” said Grace Phillips ’20, the sustainability office intern who manages the sale. “They’d probably cost about $150 new, but you can get them from us today for 25 to 50 bucks.” Other hot items: floor lamps, small plastic bureaus, single-cup coffee makers, books, refurbished bikes, and, on a day that was expected to reach an unseasonable 90 degrees, portable fans. 

“I’d have been willing to tackle someone for this little pink fan,” said Aziz Woodward ’22, of Rochester, N.Y. He was helping Brooklynite Jocelyn Lopez ’22 lug a half-size refrigerator to the pre-checkout line. There, sporting a rainbow-colored tulle tutu and matching feather boa (sale volunteers were all colorfully costumed), Hannah McGrath ’21 was inspecting items and writing prices on slips of paper to be presented, with cash or a check, at the table of clerks working under a canopy at the edge of the lawn.  

Woodward opened the refrigerator door. “Hey,” he said, “the shelves are missing. Can you mark it down more?”  

“Everything goes as is,” McGrath replied. “You want to go get another one?”

“Nope,” said Lopez, “This is fine.” 

Farther back in line, Jeff Maina ’22 said he was happy to get a fridge with shelves. “It would have been impossible to bring something like this from my home in Kenya,” he said. “It’s important to have it, because you can’t always find time to go somewhere for lunch, and if you just keep food stored in here you can eat whenever you want, even late at night. I don’t have a car, so this sale is good for me.”  

A few steps away, Gregor Mattedi Sarmento ’22, from Brazil, was trying to juggle, in one hand, a green binder, a white-board wall calendar, and a desk fan, while, with the other, wheeling a scooter toward the long checkout line.  

“This is great. Ten bucks,” he said. “Cheaper than a bike.” 

Phillips was happy to see piles of stuff being carried away. “This event is not so much about the money, though proceeds—usually about $10,000— do help the sustainability program,” she said. “It’s even more important to get rid of all this stuff and help other students.” 

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