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Plan Now for Reuse!

February 17, 2015

I’m thinking spring will be here eventually! So, time to organize a spring (or summer) reuse event. Reuse events can be one-time events, semi-annual, or annual events. Events can be held anytime of the year; evenings and weekends. Many communities have combination “reuse” or “swap” events with recycling. For example, at household hazardous waste collections, a “reuse” area can be set up for usable paints, cleaners, and other items that are free for those that may want them. Plastic planting pots and trays can be swapped at a rigid plastics collection event. And, don’t forget about all those college students in your community!

College “Move Out” Days

College students accumulate a lot of stuff—lamps, couches, desks, clothing, electronics, refrigerators, food, and more—during the course of the school year. And, many either can’t or won’t take it with them when they leave. “Move out” events are great ways for colleges and universities to reduce waste, help students see the value of reuse and recycling, and do something which brings benefits to the local community.

In some “move out” events, organizers work with local nonprofits that will accept items for resale or redistribution within the community. At other events, collected items are stored for resale (or as giveaway) to returning students in the fall. Still others do a combination of immediate resale or donation and storage/resale in the fall.

Reuse Initiative and Barn Good Thrift Store

St. Lawrence University, New York

Reuse_St Lawrence Thrift StoreThis program has been running for twelve years. The University Sustainability Coordinator hires student “temp” workers to assist with sorting and moving collected items. Collection areas are set-up in all residence halls, as well as other strategic locations. Through the program students can discard textiles, household goods, electronics, furniture, food, and pretty much anything else they’ve accumulated. Items are “triaged” for immediate donation, resale, or storage. The University rents two large storage bins to house the items to be stored.

Collected food, University property (such as library books), and some textiles are donated immediately to community organizations. Other items are checked for usability and placed in storage. Electronics that are not working are sent to an electronics recycler. Stored items are sold or given away to incoming students in the fall. Items are also put up for resale at the University’s Barn Good Thriftstore.

Chuck It for Charity

Florida State

Chuck it for Charity is a partnership between FSU Sustainable Campus and Housing & Residence Life. Collected items are weighed, sorted, and redistributed by volunteers to Tallahassee area community agencies. Acceptable items range from unopened, non-perishable food, clothing, and housewares, to school supplies, cleaning supplies, electronics, and more.

2014 by the numbers:

  • 29,502 pounds of “stuff” collected over 5 days
  • $181,000+ - estimated value of donated goods
  • 24 community organizations who received donations from this year’s collection

Spring Move Out Project (SMOP)

University of Vermont

SMOP is a collaborative effort by the City of Burlington, the University of Vermont, Chittenden Solid Waste District, ReSOURCE, Champlain College, Burlington neighborhood groups and landlords, Casella Waste Systems and Myers Container. Items not claimed (by students) during the event are donated to local charities, including ReSOURCE, Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, and the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, among others.

Dump & Run Reuse Collection

Youngstown State University

Reuse_YSUIn 2002, YSU became the first college/university in Ohio to recover reusable items from end-of-the-year student move out.  Since then, more than 30 tons of reusable items have been donated to the Rescue Mission, a local charity. Collection bins are placed in the residence halls a couple weeks prior to the last day of finals.  The YSU Recycling crew, with help from cleaning staff and volunteers, move items from each hall to a central location to be picked-up by the Rescue Mission. 

According to the YSU Recycling Program Manager, the Dump & Run program doesn't cost the school any money, other than paying for student staff.  Generally, there are 4 - 6 students working on the Saturday that all students are supposed to leave the residence halls. The University saves money from not having to provide a 20-yard trash dumpster anymore.

Pack It Up and Pass It On

Texas State University

Pack It Up and Pass It On allows Texas State students to donate unwanted items to local needy families. Donation barrels are set up in residence hall and campus apartment lobbies in April. Acceptable donations include clean clothes and liReuse_Texas Statenens, toiletries, kitchen items, stuffed animals, small appliances, and electronics. 

2012 Statistics

  • 7 tons of donations
  • 750 local residents attended the Free Shopping Day
  • $1000 was not paid for dump trucks to take items to the landfill

Re*Use Market

University of Cincinnati

The Re*Use Market was founded in 2008 by students who saw the need to reduce waste being sent to the landfill which could be reused by others. Furniture, household goods, non-perishable food items, electronics, books, clothing, sporting goods, etc. are accepted. The donations are placed in the Re*Use Market and anyone from UC or the Greater Cincinnati community can take items. The Re*Use Market is open for one week; at the end of the week, remaining items are given to local charities.

More on reuse events in next week’s NERC Blog.

NERC’s Reuse Project is seeking reuse program and event examples to include in a reuse guidance document. Please send your examples and information to Athena Lee Bradley. Full credit, with hyperlinks to program websites, will be given in the resulting document.

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