Being a student in Portland can feel like a financial death sentence. Amidst yet another tuition increase—between the housing crisis and the skyrocketing price of avocados—it’s important to know where the free stuff on campus is. While we wait for rent control, for tuition freezes and for California to import more rainclouds, let’s cash in on this free stuff. There’s a whole lot of it. And it costs no money. You don’t even have to pay.
You’re going to want to scoop up these great opportunities and shove them straight into your backpack, fridge or closet because you’ll be diverting waste from the landfill. Much of the free stuff you have access to at Portland State would otherwise be thrown away, gangpressed into the ranks of the 220 million pounds of trash that the U.S. produces per year, according to Duke University. It’s like stealing, except helpful to the environment and with no unsavory mugshots! So, in the newfound tradition of “listicles,” here are four places where you can get really cool stuff for cheap or free, sustainably.
1. The Reuse Room
Location: Cramer Hall, room 180.
This space is a small and glorious haven of school supplies and then some, and it’s all for the taking. Turn to the Reuse Room anytime you’re in need of notebooks, binders, folders or some strange old knick-knack to furnish your hipster windowsill with. Even better, if your distant relative mailed you one too many packages of Disney-themed spiral notebooks, feel free to drop donations of your own off during the Reuse Room’s hours of operation, which just so happen to be almost all the time. One person’s surplus of Disney-themed notebooks is another person’s paradise.
2. The Supply Studio
Location: The Science & Education Center, room 158a (Southwest Fourth Avenue and Lincoln Street & 4th)
Whether you’re looking to embrace your inner creative stoner, or need materials for an art class but aren’t able to spend five whole dollars on a pen at Blick, this is your place to go for free paints, glues, pencils and so much more. The Supply Studio had its grand opening earlier this April, and I feel like kicking myself for not going, so you should go there now and I’ll live vicariously through you.
3. Harvest Share
Location:Outside Shattuck Hall, every second Monday of the month at noon
The Committee for Improving Student Food Security really shouldn’t have to exist, but it does and in collaboration with the Oregon Food Bank they are able to bring free produce to you once a month. Just be sure to bring your reusable bag! Ramen, the token cheap college kid food, still costs money. Alternatively, these fresh fruits and vegetables are free and won’t give you heart disease.
4. Facilities Surplus
Location: pdx.edu/surplus/items-for-sale (you don’t have to get dressed OR leave your house!)
Okay, so this one isn’t free, but hear me out: PSU Surplus is the place to go for really sweet deals on everything from used computer and cameras to outdoor equipment. At the time this article went to print, this personal-to-PSU Craigslist had Columbia Sportswear rain jackets for just $10 a pop! Let me tell you, that is not how much those raincoats cost in stores. Prices are fixed, but reasonable.
Not only will buying used save you money, it saves manufacturers from packaging up more items in plastic, which takes centuries to break down in landfills, and helps reduce the amount of raw materials needed to make electronics like all those computers us students use to do loads of homework.