Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

April 16, 2009

Don't toss that sofa!

Is it time again for spring cleaning? Don’t put that old chair or sofa out on the curb.
An Oakland nonprofit organization is helping to clean up areas near Pitt’s campus by recycling cast-off furniture — and welcomes contributions from Pitt staff and faculty.

Each year, as Pitt students vacate their off-campus residences at the end of spring term, large numbers of discarded furniture — desks, dressers, tables and chairs — are strewn about the neighborhood, abandoned to scavengers and the whims of weather, often ending up in landfills.

To help solve the problem, the Oakland Planning and Development Corp. (OPDC) three years ago began a program of collecting and reselling abandoned furniture. This year OPDC will begin scouring Oakland and surrounding neighborhoods in the East End of Pittsburgh on April 24, gathering salvageable pieces and restoring them in preparation for a furniture sale Aug. 28 and 29. The sale will take place at the intersection of Atwood and Sennott streets, adjacent to OPDC’s office.

“The items we sell at the Oakland furniture sale are perfect for everyone living in and around the neighborhood because you get a great item for an affordable price while making a positive impact on the environment through recycling,” said Kelly Wawrzeniak, OPDC community organizer. “Collections will continue throughout the summer and we are planning to do so every Friday. We will travel outside of the area to pick up items for those living within a three-mile radius.”

Pitt faculty and staff are welcome to join the recycling effort by donating items to the furniture sale, Wawrzeniak said. “We will be accepting items like tables, chairs, dressers, desks, couches and lamps. We will not be taking mattresses, bed frames or smaller household items such as pots and pans or plates,” she said.

Donors can drop off their items at OPDC’s 235 Atwood Street office 10 a.m.-6 p.m. during the April 24 and 25 furniture recycling kickoff weekend.

OPDC reserves the right to refuse any donation based on condition, weight or type of item, Wawrzeniak added.

For those donors outside the Oakland area, this year, OPDC is partnering with 1-800-GOTJUNK, a nonprofit organization that will collect donated furniture items from households throughout the City of Pittsburgh on behalf of OPDC.

To schedule a pickup this summer or for more information on the furniture recycling program, contact Brandon DeHainaut at 412/621-7863 ext. 23.

Last year the pickup effort netted about 350 items, selling for $7,574. That money also is being “recycled” to fund this year’s expenses for the recycling program, including truck rental, furniture repairs and cleaning and advertising for the sale.

“The furniture recycling program continues to gain momentum throughout the community each year. As we increase our inventory, we are decreasing the amount of salvageable furniture that is being thrown into dumpsters and landfills,” said Wawrzeniak.

“With the new ‘outdoor storage of furniture’ legislation that was recently passed by City Council, we hope to use this as a way to increase our couch inventory for the 2009 Oakland furniture sale. Rather than residents putting their porch couches out on the street for bulk pickup, we encourage them to donate these items to our program. When it comes time for the Oakland furniture sale, we plan to make couch buyers aware that they are not allowed to place them outdoors on a porch or patio.”

Students who are moving off campus for the first time next fall also may not be aware of the new legislation, she said. “We plan to work together with the Oakland Community Council to keep the residents — both student and long-time — informed of the legislation.”

OPDC’s 2009 furniture recycling program is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Neighborhood Partnership Program, with support from PNC Bank and the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development. Partners in the effort include Moore Self Storage, 1-800-GOTJUNK and Furnish-a-Start.

—Peter Hart

Leave a Reply