Move-Out Day Programs

The collegiate move-out season has been described as a classic study of conspicuous consumption. The Post-Landfill Action Network estimates that college communities often see a six- to 10-fold increase in waste disposal, and Ohio University sustainability experts have noted that as much as 80% of that is either recyclable or reusable.

Some campuses have held move-out reuse and recycle events for decades, and waste reduction programs and events today have taken on a new level of creativity, with names like Dump & Run, Rummage Rampage, Give and Go Drive, and Move-Out Madness. Described as the first student-run move-out waste reduction program, Trash 2 Treasure began at the University of New Hampshire and has since become a national program in the United States.

Like many other programs, Trash 2 Treasure collects items that might otherwise be thrown away, and then volunteers sort, label, and store items for a community sale at the beginning of the next semester move-in. A similar event at Iowa State University, the six-day Rummage Rampage, collected 22 tons of material and by the end of the sale only 310 pounds of items were left unsold.

More than 10,000 people turn out for Penn State University’s Trash 2 Treasure sale held at Beaver Stadium, raising more than $200,000 for the United Way, and Purdue University’s Project Move-Out has seen donations increase from 40,456 pounds in 2014 to over 72,000 pounds in 2017. Campuses see back-to-school sales as a cost-effective way to buy furniture, other household items, and school supplies, and many donate the revenue to local charities such as the United Way.

A number of schools like the University of Alberta sidestep the community yard sale event and instead donate clothes and household items directly to charities such as Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, and the Salvation Army. Those same charities often rampup staffing during move-out periods and coordinate with communities and universities to serve as drop-off points for the unwanted possessions of students. These partners frequently work together to provide free pick-up of large items, create temporary drop-off sites in residential areas, and operate redistribution programs.

Campus waste reduction and redistribution programs can also be ongoing, like University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill’s Residential Green Games, where on-campus residential communities compete and earn points in a competition to determine who can reduce, reuse, and recycle the most. More than 9,000 students participate in that program annually. At Santa Clara University, the Swap for Good program allows anyone to drop off clothing, shoes, and accessories into marked bins located in residence hall lobbies and the items are then offered at a pop-up store where shoppers can pay cash or trade in other clothing items. Any income from the program then goes to one of several non-profits in the Santa Clara and San Jose area.

At Babson College, the sustainability office collaborates with the housing and facilities management divisions on a Slash the Trash program. Together, they operate drop-off locations in dorms, the union, and other locations, and they pick up large items for free, all of which are then donated to charities. A similar program at Auburn University, Check Out for Charity, allows local charities to come onto campus with trucks, set up drop-off tents, and place barrels and boxes in lobbies to collect both nonperishable food and household goods.
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