Sustainability cuts out ‘SurPLUs’ program

Sophomore Kevin Smith browses SurPLUs' final sale. SurPLUs closed its doors for good April 11. SurPLUs offered gently used and discarded items for a discount to both students and public.
Sophomore Kevin Smith browses SurPLUs’ final sale. SurPLUs closed its doors for good April 11. SurPLUs offered gently used and discarded items for a discount to both students and public.
Photo by Katie DePreker

SurPLUs closed its doors permanently after its final sale April 11. The Sustainability Department shut down the item recycling program due to budgetary limitations.

SurPLUs was a way for students at Pacific Lutheran University to donate items, anything from spatulas to couches to plastic Christmas trees, rather than throw them away into landfills.

The program was part of Sustainability’s goal to become waste free by 2020. However, the program was getting more donations than customers, causing low profit numbers.

“We haven’t been able to get that many people into here,” senior Nathan Rhodes, the manager of SurPLUs, said. “It’s not affordable for PLU to keep it open anymore. We actually pay more for people to staff it than we are earning.”

Usually, SurPLUs would make at most $10-20 per day and at least 25-50 cents per day.

SurPLUs heads decided to eradicate the program two to three weeks ago, partly because SurPLUs was not generating revenue and also because Sustainability was not giving SurPLUs the attention it required.

“We have so many things to do we can’t concentrate on that one thing very well,” Nick Lorax, a sustainability lead, said.

Instead of SurPLUs, Sustainability has placed an unattended Goodwill truck outside of the Facilities Management building behind the Morken Center for Learning and Technology.

This allows PLU students to give back to the community while still keeping their items out of landfills.

Each time the truck reaches capacity, Sustainability will call Goodwill to haul the full truck out and bring an empty one to replace it.

“The truck will take in anything from the area,” Rhoades said. “They’re going to be paying us for the weight of the truck. The money will go back into the PLU budget.”

In addition to the Goodwill truck, there are two metal donation boxes outside of facilities for students to leave shoes and clothes for the Susan G. Komen foundation and books for Discover Books.

The busiest time of year for SurPLUs is the end of spring semester when students no longer want school supplies or furniture, so they take the items to SurPLUs. Now that the program is gone, Sustainability will provide five dumpsters and four Goodwill trucks throughout campus during move-out.

“There will be a truck near Harstad, South, Pflueger and that area near Hong, Hinderlie and Ordal,” Lorax said.

There will also be charities accepting any toiletries, including half filled bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

“I am sad to see SurPLUs go,” Lorax said. “It’s something that’s been a lot of fun.”


Video by Jessica Trondsen 🅼

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