The University of Calgary requires substantial amounts of materials and supplies to keep offices, classrooms and gathering spaces across campus properly furnished. Rather than sending these items to the landfill once they have served their purpose, the University of Calgary’s Surplus Sale provides opportunities for the campus community and the public to purchase surplus equipment, furniture and materials. The bi-weekly sales are held at the west end of the university campus and are managed by Distribution Services. Giving these items a second chance promotes responsible consumption and production, diverts waste from the landfill and creates community engagement opportunities. The Surplus Sales also offer an economic upside to buyers as well as the university. The competitive prices are beneficial for buyers who are looking to save some money on their equipment by purchasing previously-used items. While the money generated from the Surplus Sales for the university can be reinvested into purchasing future items.
Noting the connections between the Surplus Sales and sustainability, a Peer Helper Group collaborated with staff members in the Office of Sustainability and Distribution Services to investigate potential opportunities to promote and improve the surplus sale events. Their project outlined three main engagement opportunities:
- Online marketing
- Potential collaboration with Residence Services and community organizations
- Improved signage and on-campus marketing
Throughout the year, the team brainstormed ideas, conducted online research, and created mock-ups of potential ads, campaigns, and website layouts. Consultations and check-ins with primary stakeholders from Distribution Services the Office of Sustainability and Office of Advancement were crucial to the project’s outcomes and future recommendations.
- A comprehensive plan for marketing of the surplus sales through online marketplaces was established and recommended. The plan included mock-ups of web-page postings for Kijiji and an evaluation of potential paid promotion options.
- It was determined that certain items such as furniture would be useful for students living in campus residences and nearby off-campus housing.
- Increased visitors to the sale could increase sustainability efforts and cooperation amongst student-body and the public, leading to a larger sense of community and means to source quality, affordable, furniture and good.
- Increase social media presence through campus outlets and campaigns. Suggested outlets include inclusion in email newsletters (e.g. UThisWeek), Office of Sustainability Facebook page, and marketing booths on campus.
- Continue to promote user accessibility and wayfinding to the sales by revamping the website and creating a dedicated Facebook page
- Roll out promotional postings on online marketplaces (e.g. Kijiji) in accordance with the recommended plan.
- Facilitate cooperation between Residence Services and the Surplus Sale to make an inventory of what is needed and what is available.
- Evaluate the possibility of distributing posters, flyers, and cards around campus and the larger Calgary community for marketing.