NSCAD’s ‘love dumpster’ helps students cope with financial stress
November 3, 2014, 1:00 PM AST
Last updated January 8, 2015, 1:25 PM AST
In the NSCAD University student centre, three women are digging for hidden treasures in the student union’s “love dumpster.”
The bin contains items such as clothing, household items, fabrics and art supplies. There’s even a stylish gray winter coat that’s quickly snatched up by one student lucky enough to have seen it before the others.
The love dumpster has a take-and-leave-as-you-please policy on used items in good condition, which are then made available to students, faculty and staff.
“We just don’t want things going to waste, because the world we live in is very wasteful,” says Tara Fleming, student union resource coordinator at NSCAD.
“People who find themselves in need … hopefully we can give them a bit of help. Unfortunately the demand is getting greater because tuition keeps going up.”
In the 2013-14 school year, Nova Scotia was third in the country for highest undergraduate tuition and second highest for graduate studies tuition.
Tuition at NSCAD in fall 2014 is $2,970 for Nova Scotia residents, $3,481 for other Canadians and $7,788 for international students.
Fleming says NSCAD’s student union is aware of the dire financial situation some students face. Along with the love dumpster, the school has a food bank that is emptied almost as soon as the shelves are stocked.
The student union realized eight years ago that students did not have a place to recycle and give away used and leftover items, and the love dumpster was born.
Fleming says the dumpster gets its name from a time when financially strapped NSCAD students shared details about the best dumpsters to find food – a practice Fleming says still happens.
Between the food bank and the love dumpster, says third-year student Vixie Bee, “NSCAD can be a real life-saver sometimes, especially with having to buy art supplies.”
Fleming says about a quarter of tuition goes toward supplies for students at NSCAD, with the amount varying among programs.
Students are often expected to buy their own supplies such as paint, metal and copper and the costs add up quickly, Bee says.
“I find at least in my experience that the vast majority of my money that I get outside of tuition, ends up going toward art supplies for the school.” With the love dumpster, students have a place to offer these materials to others.
Art supplies in the love dumpster are not the only items catching the eyes of students. “There are a couple of cute dresses in there,” says Megan McCracken, student and coffee shop worker at NSCAD. “People give away nice stuff.”
McCracken says the love dumpster has become a daily routine for some students. They arrive at school in the morning and check out the new goodies it contains.
She affectionately refers to the dumpster as a “mini-garbage for your friends.”