Mary Ryan Pioneers Conscious Consumerism at UMF

Mary Ryan Pioneers Conscious Consumerism at UMF

Mary Ryan, pictured with student worker Brooke Carrier, educates the community about recycling. (Photo by Andrea Swiedom)

Contributing Writer

In the basement of the Education Center, a room is shelved with items for sale that people would commonly call trash– an assortment of leather scraps, salvaged coffee cans, jars of colorful buttons, used spools of Christmas ribbon.  For thirty-eight years, Depot Coordinator Mary Ryan has been collecting reusable items destined for incineration or a landfill for the non-profit organization, Everyone’s Resource Depot (ERD).

   Ryan, who is originally from Wilton, had been teaching high school biology in Massachusetts when ERD was founded in 1979 by UMF faculty.  A year later, Ryan returned home to take some time off from teaching. When she learned about ERD, she was immediately compelled to join the organization.

   Ryan associated her interest in reusing from her mother who did a lot of crafts and utilized items around the house rather than going to the store to buy materials.  “So I think that was probably a big part of what interested me, but also just the idea that we just throw so much stuff away,” said Ryan.

   The depot accepts donations and keeps a running list of wanted items posted on the wall and on the depot’s website.  Ryan is currently on the look-out for pom poms, baby food jars and coffee filters, to name a few. Sometimes, Ryan has to reject donations, but she always provides guidance as to how people can recycle what they’ve brought in.  However, when Ryan first started at ERD, Farmington didn’t have a recycling center.

   “There wasn’t anywhere near the emphasis back in 1980 on recycling or reusing.  There was no community recycling then either,” said Ryan. “This has all happened since so, I guess the world was very different in a way.”

   Ryan’s efforts to minimize trash did not stop with ERD.  She set out with a community group to successfully establish Farmington’s recycling center.  “So now we can say to someone who brings us a bag of stuff, ‘now these particular things can go into your recycling.’  They might not really keep track of what they can recycle,” Ryan said while running her hand through a container of buttons.  

   The Depot is a tactile experience as much as a shopping experience with boxes full of felt, wood pieces organized by shape and beads organized by color.  It’s difficult to refrain from impulsively touching everything. While individual donations contribute to the variety of items, so does relationships with local businesses that Ryan and board members have formed over the years.

   WA Mitchell Fine Furniture started donating wood scraps and dowels three years ago and Ryan picks up plastic fish tubs from Moser’s Seafood every month.  Once items make it to the depot, student workers play a huge role in organizing the plethora of donations. Ryan expressed immense gratitude towards her student workers who often organize items in ways she wouldn’t consider and it often helps keep items moving.  

     “I appreciate [student workers]…looking at something with a different eye because you get so used to something, you just accept that that’s the way it’s going to be,” said Ryan.  Keeping items moving is integral to this organization which currently has a storage room stuffed to the brim with items that haven’t sold.

      Ryan said she’d like to see more students utilize the ERD and ask themselves,  “‘what could I use here [at ERD] and do I need that particular item that I was just gonna go to Wal-Mart for, or is there something else here that would work just as well?’”

   The pricing at ERD ranges from five cents to two dollars per individual item so customers can buy the exact amount they need.  There are similar organizations to ERD in Lewiston and Westbrook, but their pricing is based on a yearly membership fee which can pose as a barrier for a person to just walk in and grab what they need for a single project.  Ryan prefers ERD’s open to the public, pay per item set-up. “I just think people think more about what they’re picking up…if they’re paying for it. It’s just human nature.”

     Everyone’s Resource Depot is located in room 009 in the Education Center.  Visit for more information.    


UMF Community Gives Advice on Affordable Gifts from Students

UMF Community Gives Advice on Affordable Gifts from Students

By Bryan Eldridge  – Contributing Writer


The UMF campus recognizes the bitter and stressful emotions that often haunt college students as they Christmas shop for their loved ones, which is why a few community members wanted to provide their own gift ideas for the jolly season without leaving a dent in your wallet.

   Screenwriting professor Bill Mesce is in his first year of teaching at UMF and is a resident of Lindon, New Jersey. As a parent of college-aged children himself, Mesce feels as though just seeing your kids for the holidays is a gift. “At this point in your life all your parents really want is for you to show up for Christmas,” Mesce said. “That’s the gift.”

   When shopping for your parents especially, make sure it’s something that shows you’re familiar with what they like. “[Parents] would rather it be that small thing that says ‘I know mom’ or ‘I know dad’,” Mesce said. For Mesce there’s only one way to do Christmas shopping right: “Go simple. Go purposeful.”

   Brian Weiner, a sophomore at UMF and a first-year CA, is originally from New Hampshire and uses the lack of sales tax to his advantage for ideas such as gag gifts. “A lot of people like gag gifts, so that could be an option,” Weiner said with a sense of optimism.

   Like most college students, Weiner understands the importance of shopping on a budget. “You don’t want to spend a lot,” said Weiner. “You could always make homemade stuff. Ornaments are always a good idea.”

   Taylor Rossics, a sophomore at UMF and an employee at Everyone’s Resource Depot in the basement of the Ed. Center, knows that the cheaper prices offered by the Depot are very helpful. “The Resource Depot has significantly lower prices than other stores,” Rossics exclaimed with pride.

Everyone’s Resource Depot provides many different tools and materials that can be used to make gifts.
credit: Bryan Eldridge

   Along with their low prices, a wide variety of options helps make shopping easier. “We have an abundant variety [of materials] here at the depot,” said Rossics. “We have pretty much anything you could ever need.”

   At Everyone’s Resource Depot, finding gifts for anyone is much easier. “Come to the Depot! We have so much that’s so cheap that you could get ten gifts at the price of one,” said Rossics. “There’s really something for everyone here.”

   No matter what gift you ultimately decide to get for your loved ones, it’s important to spend time with those around you, especially family. “You have all the time in the world to spend time with friends up here,” said Weiner. “Spending time with family is super important.”

   For students who want to visit Everyone’s Resource Depot, it’s open from 3-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.