A last shot at love with Cupid’s SWAPR

The Free Market, on the second floor of Main Building, works to decrease waste by taking used clothing and offering it to others. Similar initiatives will be a part of ‘Cupid’s Flea Market’ this Saturday. Photo By: Rachel Garbade
The Free Market, on the second floor of Main Building, works to decrease waste by taking used clothing and offering it to others. Similar initiatives will be a part of ‘Cupid’s Flea Market’ this Saturday. Photo By: Rachel Garbade
The Free Market, on the second floor of Main Building, works to decrease waste by taking used clothing and offering it to others. Similar initiatives will be a part of ‘Cupid’s Flea Market’ this Saturday. Photo By: Rachel Garbade

For those singles on Valentine’s Day, there is still hope. The spirit of Valentine’s Day is not limited to loving your friends, family and significant others; loving the environment is equally valid.

In honor of this, next Saturday, Feb. 14, the College Committee on Sustainability is hosting Cupid’s Flea Market in the Villard Room from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

While the flea market is hosted on campus, it is by no means limited to student vendors. Local Foods Intern and member of the College Committee on Sustainability, Kayla Abe ’15, wrote in an emailed statement, “Campus orgs, individuals and off-campus thrift stores have signed up to reserve booths at the event, though everyone who attends is welcome to buy, sell, trade or donate!”

Sustainability Intern on the College Committee on Sustainability, Evan Kamber ’15, added in emailed statement, “We are expecting The Bearded Lady thrift store to have a table and as of now around 20 student tables, with organizations represented so far such as Vassar Contrast, Equestrian Club, and [off-campus] students.”

“Transactions are entirely in the vendors’ control, giving those selling goods control over the price and in what form of payment they would like to be paid in,” Kamber wrote.

“I expect there to be bartering allowed among some vendors and others who have stricter prices.” Abe added, “We just wanted to provide a platform for an open-ended exchange of goods to take place. It’s really up to the individuals who come to determine what the event ends up looking like.”

The College Committee on Sustainability, Kamber added, would still love to gain more vendors for the event. In addition to all of the booths, however, there also will be a section for people to drop off their old electronics to be properly recycled. Kamber wrote, “We also plan on having an E-waste collecting station where we will collect batteries, old cell phones and recycle them appropriately.”

This is not the first event the Committee on Sustainability has hosted to raise awareness of the amount of waste around campus. Once a year at the end of Senior Week they hold SWAPR. Kamber wrote, “SWAPR has multiple interpretations, I’ve generally referred to the acronym meaning ‘Stop Waste and Promote Recycling,’ but has been interpreted by others as ‘Students with a Purpose: Recycling.’”

SWAPR is the College Committee on Sustainability’s longest running program, having started in 2002.

Holding the event at the end of the academic year gives students a chance to recycle unwanted household goods, clothing and furniture and reuse any items that catch their eye. Anything leftover is donated to local charities.

The idea for Cupid’s Flea Market started with the idea to hold a second SWAPR during the year after seeing how much they accumulated at the last event. “Drawing inspiration from last year’s Art Market hosted by Davison House, and the Free and For Sale Facebook page, we wanted to give the opportunities for anyone in the community, specifically students, the opportunity to sell and trade goods and services,” Kamber wrote. “We combined this idea with the donation aspect of SWAPR to come up with Cupid’s Flea Market.”

The date, however, was mostly coincidental. Abe wrote, “Choosing Valentine’s Day for the event was partly logistical, but it also seemed like an appropriate day for a community-building event, and to show some love for the environment by reducing our consumption, a counter to the highly capitalist nature of the holiday.”

“The primary goal of the Flea Market is to reduce the amount of waste we produce at the end of the year,” Kamber added. “Looking at the piles of stuff left from students after they left was daunting—last May it filled the entire Kenyon Gym. Coming into my Senior year we were thinking of ways to improve SWAPR and talked about having it multiple times a year.” Due to the significant amount of planning that goes into SWAPR, Cupid’s Flea Market will just be a miniature version.

There are many other options around campus to reuse and recycle unwanted stuff. Free & For Sale is a Facebook group where you can post pictures of unwanted items for a reasonable price. The page was started at least a year ago, but, according to Carly Bloomfeld ’16, no one was in charge of the page or what was supposed to happen on it.

When Bloomfeld, along with Debbie Altman ’16 and Andy Sironko ’16, became the current admins of Free & For Sale’s Facebook page, their hope was to discourage Vassar students from taking advantage of each other. They wanted to see the page used in the same way as Cupid’s Flea Market.

Bloomfeld recently posted, “Free & For Sale is a community tool to exchange, reuse and avoid wasting a wide variety of items (books, clothes, furniture, food etc.) within our community and to make a moderate amount of cash when needed or to make up some of the original cost of a particular item.”

For most, the appeal of the Vassar-specific Facebook page is that it creates a more trustworthy setting, unlike other online mediums such as the for sale section of Craigslist.

Bloomfeld wrote, “You get the convenience of being in very close proximity to whoever is buying your things, but the price for that is you’re doing it within a very small community, so there’s an expectation that you will be fair and not rip people off.”

It wasn’t until last spring when people were leaving for vacation that students started taking more notice of the page, and posting more frequently. Sironko was the first to notice that the tone of the transactions were not what they should be.

Students were not just looking to find good deals, but some were also hoping to make a profit. “One day Andy [Sironko] Facebook-messaged both [Altman and me] saying it really bothered him how people were using the page because they were overcharging and trying to sell things that clearly have no monetary value,” Bloomfeld wrote.

She added, “None of us have any problem with people charging for items, but we thought people were being jerks and trying to rip off their friends.” She added, Sironko was the original author of the post on the Free & For Sale page, but, since she agreed with what he had to say, she posted it to the page for him.

The purpose of these resources is to foster a different sort of feeling towards excess things. Recycling does not have to be just for paper, glass and plastics. The College Committee on Sustainability’s main goal with the flea market is to promote campus solidarity through the exchange of recycled goods. Kamber wrote, “We hope that Cupid’s Flea Market provides students an opportunity to buy, sell, trade, donate goods and services and acquire free stuff while at the same time providing a community event that supports reuse and recycling.”

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