Ian Janssen, Kathryn Meier, David Matushik, Deb McCredie and Lauren Simione volunteer at the UDon't Need It? tent site in 2008. Photo by Kathy Atkinson for the University of Delaware.

In Memoriam

David Matushik, founder of UDon't Need It? and sustainability advocate

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12:57 p.m., Oct. 18, 2013--David Matushik, a University of Delaware alumnus who pioneered several local sustainability efforts including Green Delaware Recycling and the UDon’t Need It? Program, passed away on Sept. 13, 2013, at the age of 31.

While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in economics and anthropology in 2002, Mr. Matushik joined Clean Vibes LLC as a crew member who promoted recycling, composting and proper waste disposal at outdoor festivals such as the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. When Mr. Matushik left Clean Vibes in 2011 to pursue a graduate degree in sustainability, he was the manager of a trading post program he had designed to incentivize recycling efforts at outdoor events.

Upon graduation from UD in 2005, he founded Green Delaware Recycling LLC (GDR) with fellow UD alumnus Jason Begany. Motivated by a lack of recycling regulations on Newark’s Main Street, GDR offered free receptacles and free recycling pick-up to interested Main Street businesses in order to boost recycling rates and educate the community about best practices. More information on GDR’s efforts can be found in this article in The Review. Mr. Matushik’s biofuel conversion for his Mercedes 240D, used to transport GDR recyclables, was later highlighted as a “Green Idea We Love” by Delaware Today magazine.

Also in 2005, Mr. Matushik partnered with the city of Newark and the University of Delaware to create a UD student move-out program that would eventually be known as “UDon’t Need It?” (UDNI). The pilot program, launched in May 2006, was called “Starving Students’ Surplus Sale of Stuff” and consisted of a one-day sale for departing students with unsold items made available to the community for free. In the years that followed, UDNI has steadily grown into a two-week event that diverts an average of 100 tons of would-be waste annually. Donations of unneeded electronics, furniture and small housewares are accepted by community volunteers who sort items for free distribution to local charities. Following charity donations, surplus items are offered for public sale at minimum prices with proceeds helping to offset expenses of the program for the following year. Mr. Matushik discusses the program’s growth in this short video clip by NewsWorks WHYY-FM.

Formerly held at the old Curtis Paper Mill site, UDNI will be held at a new, larger location in 2014. Deb McCredie, assistant university secretary at UD, will continue to co-chair the project with Carol Houck, Newark city manager. “Dave was a wonderful young man, with a mission to heighten awareness on the values of recycling. Many people looked forward to seeing him at the annual UDNI project, and he will be sorely missed,” said McCredie upon hearing the news. “I know Dave was very proud of this project, and very proud that UD and the City of Newark were working together to make a difference. The project will continue, and it’s a very fitting legacy for Dave as he was always encouraging people to stop and think about how their actions can impact the environment both locally and globally.”

Details on this year’s UDon’t Need It? will be available in early May on the UDNI website.

Mr. Matushik’s memorial services were held on Sept. 16 and Sept. 17, 2013, in Cherry Hill, N.J. Condolences may be shared online at this Schetter Funeral Home website or on the Facebook page created in his memory.

Article by Casey Impagliazzo

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