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College Move Out Success!

May 26, 2015

In February I posted an article, Plan Now for Reuse!, which included examples of college “move out” day events around the country.Waste on college campuses spikes at the end of each academic year. At the University of New Hampshire, for example, the average 25 tons of trash per month normally generated at the school, jumped to 125 tons when students moved out in the spring.

Having recently had the pleasure of working with the reuse committee in St. Lawrence County, New York and three of their four colleges to implement or expand campus move out events, I thought I’d share some of the basic tasks of establishing these important reuse opportunities.

Step 1: Decide preliminary program design

Start small and build!

Options –

  • Work with local nonprofits that will accept items for resale or redistribution within the community. Partnering with a church to hold a rummage sale is another option. Program examples: Chuck It for Charity; Spring Move Out Project (SMOP); Dump & Run Reuse Collection.
  • Hold a “Take it or Leave it” event where students can “shop” for items they want, leave items they don’t want. At the end of the collection period remaining items can be donated to charity. Program example: Clarkson University Take it or Leave it.
  • Set up a temporary “restore” on campus or hold a community tag sale and invite students and the community to take items a low or no cost. Program example: Re*Use Market.
  • Store collected items for resale (and/or as giveaway) to returning students in the fall; alternatively, do a combination of immediate resale or donation (such as food items) and storage/resale in the fall. Program example: Reuse Initiative and Barn Good Thrift Store.

Step 2: Determine materials to collect

Based upon the program design, determine materials to collect. Items can include: textiles, household goods, electronics, furniture, food, and, more. What’s to be collected is also contingent on material outlets. Textile collections can, for example, include worn or stained clothing and other items that may not be suitable for reuse, but can be recycled.

Step 3: Determine logistics

Logistics include: set up of collection points, determining dates to run the event, staffing, triage, storage needs, and centralized collection specifics.

1. Drop-off collection points—“Drop Zones”

  • Typical points of collection include residence halls, student center and other convenient locations.
  • Factors to consider: the staffing/volunteers available to sort/triage collected items; moving items from collection points to central locations for sale/storage/donation.
  • Be prepared to have containers, boxes, and/or a taped-off area in place at the start of the move out event.

2. Move Out Dates

  • Typically 1-3 weeks prior to the end of final exams.
  • Factors to consider: the staffing/volunteers available to sort/triage collected items.

3. Staffing

Options - Student workers/volunteers, college staff, community volunteers, or temporary staff.

  • Solicit student environmental club activists, honors program students, and residence hall monitors.
  • Check with faculty to see if they will provide extra credit for students who volunteer.
  • Work with college environmental or sustainability programs to see if there is available staff to assist.
  • Work with college administration to see if funding is available for temporary staff.
  • Promote the event as a charitable, service-learning undertaking.
  • Check to see if staff from donation outlets (if used) may be available to transport items from collection points or centralized locations.

4. Triage/Sorting

Plan on going through materials to determine usability and to sort according to program design.

  • If food is collected, these items will need to be donated right away to local charities. Be sure to have donation recipients in place and a schedule for pickup/drop-off of collected items.
  • Sort out college property (library books, cafeteria serviceware, lamps, furniture, etc.) and return appropriately.
  • Textiles, shoes, linens, etc. will need to be sorted for reuse, if usable or recycling if available.
  • Usable electronics for resale/donation; nonworking electronics for recycling – be sure to arrange recycling and proper disposal for these items.
  • Usable household items – furniture, dishes, beds, lamps, etc. Be sure to have outlets, or plan for onsite (student and/or community) resale/donation.

5. Onsite Storage

Depending on the event and items collected, at least some temporary storage will be needed. If the move out event is held for a shorter period and a “remarket” or “free store” is set up on campus for resale/donation, storage can be temporary—an area inside a campus building. Alternatively, if local nonprofits/churches will accept some or all of the collected items, storage needs can be reduced or eliminated. 

  • Storage can include rented “shipping” style containers, covered (clean) dumpsters, or an unused campus building. Storage needs to be dry and out of the elements.
  • If the resale/donation is to occur in the fall for new students, storage will need to be secured in order to hold collected items for several months.

6. Centralized Collection Area(s)

Collected items will need to be moved from the student drop-off areas to storage and/or points for consolidation for students and/or charities to pick-up.

  • A truck or motorized cart will be needed to haul collected items from the drop-off areas to the centralized collection area.
  • Recycling bins can be located in the centralized collection area for items not suitable for reuse.
  • The centralized collection area(s) will need to have ready access to both the student drop-off areas and road access for hauling off campus and/or for transport to onsite campus storage for later distribution/resale.
  • The centralized area should be a tent or other covered area to protect items from the weather. Items not removed by the end of the day will need to be secured.
    • Clean and covered “reuse” bins can be used for temporary centralized storage.

 Texas State Univ_Pack it Up Pass it On

Part 2 of College Move Out Success next week. Did you catch the NPR story on DePauw University’s move out donation event?

By Athena Lee Bradley

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