Alexandra Foote, College '15 and Lowell House Rep for the Undergraduate Resource Efficiency Program, used photography to bring her peers' attention to waste. The collection is titled "Excess." Her photos are featured below and were also showcased at the Lowell House Art Show.

This is a collection of photos taken at Harvard’s Recycling and Surplus Center. The aim is to emphasize the excess of consumption on campus and to illustrate the afterlife of objects after they are discarded from the University. 


Take a Seat: The Center takes in broken and used furniture from across the University. Many of these items are stored by departments renovating buildings and then left there permanently when renovations finish and the furniture is no longer wanted. Volunteers come to the center to refurbish the furniture (repairing wheels, fixing drawers, repainting etc.). 

Back to School: Binders are collected from dorms during move out. Freshmen can claim binders in Annenberg during opening days, and those that are not taken are moved to the Surplus Center. On Thursdays residents from around Boston can come claim items for free.

Cycle: Some items, such as bicycle wheels, are sent to developing areas within and outside the US where these items are in high demand. The wheels in the photo are from Quad Bikes, the shop in Cabot that refurbishes old bikes. 


Appetite: TerraCycle tubs are placed in many of the graduate school department buildings. People can place plastics from foods in these tubs and they will be sent to the Center first for sorting, and then they will be sent to TerraCycle, which repurposes the plastic waste into new consumer goods. 

Desk(over the)top Monitors: Desktop monitors over three years in age are often taken from labs at the University and given to the Center. A student group, Semi-New Computers, takes these computers and refurbishes them with updated software. 

Tub of Energy: The Center is paid for any gold or other metals collected from the electronics, but it has to pay for the recycling and treatment of electronics with glass or mercury in them. Batteries deposited in the blue tubes around campus are compiled at the Surplus Center and sorted by volunteers. There are over 5 different kinds of batteries (Nickel-cadmium, lithium ion, alkaline, mercury and more). 

Archive Disc(o): Many departments often video tape lectures and store them in archives until they are backed up online, after which point the CDs and Videos are discarded. Student groups also often order CDs in bulk for lower prices, expecting not to sell as many as ordered. The leftovers are sent to the Center for recycling. The Center sends many of the large electronic items to an off-campus recycling center.