From trash to cash

Surplus store repurposes everyday items for auction

From its start in May 2015 to now, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer Restore has been saving thousands of pounds of garbage from going to the landfill. For the past two years, this on-campus Surplus Store has been hosting a “Ditch the Dumpster” sustainability event.

This event is an opportunity for students moving out of the Residence Halls to donate their unwanted items instead of putting them in the dumpster. It is a carefree way to keep items out of the dumpster that others could find useful.

Just from hosting the “Ditch the Dumpster” day, the past two years, the Surplus Store has saved 28, 592 pounds from going to the landfill. Donations from students get picked up from the Residence Halls by Surplus Store employees, and go to Goodwill, the Local Food Pantry or stay on the Restore Front.

“My favorite thing about hosting this event is that we get to keep all of that trash that was supposed to go to the landfill out of the landfill. We get to sell things that some people may think as trash, but others are really excited about,” said Sam Borkgren sustainability/surplus Assistant-photographer/marketing specialist.

The Surplus Store is a self-sustained store in which all earnings go towards paying employees and resources/equipment used. They sell an array of things from clothing to cars. After attending the auction every year, sustainability coordinator, Amy Seeboth Wilson, had the idea of starting the Surplus Store on campus.

“Instead of a yearly auction, Amy Seeboth Wilson, [sustainability corrdinator] had the idea of starting a Surplus Store and making it run throughout the entire year,” said Kelly Shea, surplus Manager.

In addition to the auction, the Surplus Store is making a profit as well as saving the environment.

“Not only do we keep stuff out of the landfill, but we are making a profit off of it and we are able to provide money back to departments on campus as well as back into the store,” said Matt Lindberg sustainability/surplus assistant-recycling specialist.

The idea took off in May 2015. The Surplus Store started off small. “I would sell a few items here and there, averaging about $200 a month,” said Shea. Now the store averages about $6,000 to $9,000 a month.

Currently, the Surplus Store takes donations from departments only on campus, but occasionally they will hold an event where the community can make donations. They work with two different auction sites, Wisconsin Surplus and, in order to sell their bigger items that the store front would have trouble selling.

The Surplus Store is located on the east side of Glenview Commons. It is open from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Tuesday, and everyone is welcome to come check it out.