The Office of Green Initiatives (OGI) is in the process of fully launching KOGI Space, an app that will help promote and support the College’s sustainability efforts. Masterminded primarily by OGI Intern Dennis Frimpong ’24, the app will serve as a platform similar to Facebook Marketplace where Kenyon students and community members can post and exchange gently used clothing and furniture in order to prevent excess waste.
The College adopted a new sustainability statement last fall in which it outlined its goal to further embrace environmental stewardship. One of these initiatives includes the Carbon Neutrality Master Plan, which aims to make Kenyon carbon neutral by 2040. Much of OGI’s work aims to promote these goals and create opportunities for students and community members to contribute to the College’s conservation efforts.
Frimpong hopes that the app will serve to foster a stronger sustainability culture on campus, which will in turn help increase awareness of the College’s goals and ways to meet them. “One thing we interns at the OGI realized is that building a campus culture is one way of achieving this goal,” he said. “Anything that has to do with recycling, the environment, improving sustainability culture — that’s the duty of the OGI.”
KOGI Space is especially relevant now that the Rummage Sale no longer exists. The sale was hosted by the OGI each year prior to the pandemic. It allowed Kenyon students and community members leaving in the spring to donate gently-used clothing and items such as fans and microwaves, which were then resold at a reduced price to first years and returning students in the fall.
The rummage sale was discontinued because it became too expensive and time consuming to implement. According to OGI Intern Madi Hamilton ’23, the amount of money being paid to students who set up and managed the sale each year was greater than the money being made, and the sale posed many logistical challenges, such as collecting and physically bringing all of the items to the Gambier Community Center to be re-sold.
KOGI Space will help to fill, and expand beyond, the space left by the absence of the rummage sale. The platform will be available throughout the year for community members to exchange items such as unnecessary furniture, used textbooks and unneeded coats. The app will also be free of any monetary transactions in order to promote sustainability efforts.
Hamilton noted that the app will also help support the OGI’s ongoing project of increasing awareness around what sort of items belong in the garbage, recycling and paper bins around campus. Due to the confusion of what sort of waste goes into which bins, Hamilton hopes that the app encourages users to reuse items before they discard them. “We’re really just trying to keep things out of the garbage [and] recycling bin[s] for as long as possible,” she said.
Frimpong did much of the work designing and creating the app this past summer, and published it on the Google Play store for Android-users on Sept. 30. This launch is meant to be a pilot of sorts, as a smaller number of Kenyon students have Androids than iPhones. According to Frimpong, the app has been successful so far among Android users, and the iOS version will hopefully be ready for use after Thanksgiving break.
The application will be available to anybody who has a Kenyon email address, though Frimpong noted that the app is designed to protect the privacy of its users. When students post on the app, their names will be anonymous unless they directly message another user.
The interpersonal-nature of this app is a means to invite the Kenyon community to be more involved in supporting the College’s sustainability efforts. “The app aims to do two things: reduce waste and provide a way for people to feel like they are contributing to global emissions reductions,” Director of Green Initiatives David Heithaus wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Climate change is the result of consumption — primarily consumption that relates to the burning of fossil fuels. Because that is practically everything we consume, anything an individual can do to reuse or recycle an existing product is one of a small handful of things that when aggregated might make a difference.”
Hamilton reiterated this sentiment and acknowledged the convenience of the app as well.
“I hope that people think to use the app before throwing something away, or sending it to Goodwill, because there’s always someone on campus looking for whatever you’re trying to get rid of,” she said.