FreeCycle Encourages Reuse

Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and other members of the Cambridge community flocked to the Science Center on Friday to drop off their unwanted items in exchange for the latest finds at Harvard’s FreeCycle.

The free give-and-take event, hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Green Program and the Facilities Maintenance Operations Recycling & Solid Waste Removal group, is held every three to four months on campus.

“They’re our way of making sure that good items don’t go to the trash,” said Brandon P. Geller, senior coordinator of the FAS Green Program.

The tables of the Science Center were filled with roughly 500 pounds of items ranging from office supplies like staplers and old typewriters to household items such as lamps and kiddie pools. One table was devoted exclusively to the display of over 100 binders.

Shoppers, including a HUPD officer who walked away with a large metal filing cabinet, eagerly filled their pockets, bags, or arms with anything they desired.

“This is the first year I had to put up signs that said ‘Do not take before 11,’” Geller said.

Shoppers also encountered less commonplace artifacts such as an antique pea-green Samsonite suitcase and a Bounty Hunter Princess Leia action figure from 1996. Christopher D. Liedl, a proctor in Matthews Hall, brought in a half-full bag of topsoil passed down from the proctor before him.

“It was either that or bring it to a white elephant gift exchange,” Leidl said.

Some attendees had unconventional plans for their finds. One said he hoped to fashion percussion instruments for children out of the dozens of plastic Easter eggs he found at the event.

According to Robert Gogan, a Facilities Maintenance Operations associate manager, the most desired items at FreeCycles are overproduced Harvard gear or items bearing the Harvard insignia without license. At previous FreeCyles, shoppers have claimed “Hardvard” sweatpants made overseas and mass-produced key card holders from the Freshman Dean’s Office.

The excitement was felt by those giving in addition to those receiving.

Physics department Building and Facilities Manager Stuart W. McNeil grinned as he tossed neon-yellow safety vests to a crowd of eager attendees.

Unclaimed items will be taken to the Surplus Distribution in Allston, a giveaway event which occurs every Thursday.

“Look at the tables; it’s a blast,” Gogan said. “What’s better than stuff for free?”

—Staff writer Indrani G. Das can be reached at


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