As housing professionals, this is the time of year when we need to be thinking about move out. Our days and nights may instead be filled with end of the year awards ceremonies, good bye dinners and last minute reports. But a little focus on move-out can make life easier over the next few weeks.
I like to have a waste reduction program in place during move-out. Students like it because they can feel better about getting rid of things they either no longer want or don’t have room to take home. The planet likes it because few items go into the landfill. Local charities like it because they get plenty of items with a lot of life left in them to get to people who need them. Custodial staff usually hate them because it creates more work at an already busy time. I generally do something special for staff that get stuck helping with clean up, sorting and removal to help make up for the extra work created.
There are so many great examples of programs out there. Check out the program at Harvard University. It’s totally volunteer driven. Volunteers collect all the items in the spring, rehab and clean as needed, then sell to students during move in the next fall. The money earned is used to pay for their spring break trip to build a Habitat for Humanity house. Michigan State University also has a great program called “Pack up and Pitch in.” What I love about this program is that it is offered in conjunction with the City of East Lansing and they are even helping off-campus students. Another great program to model after is at Penn State University, “Trash to Treasure.” Similar to Harvard, most of the donations get sold, but at Penn they donate all proceeds to the local United Way.
You may not have the ability to do such an enormous program as the examples, but even a small attempt is good. It can be as simple as a bin in the lobby and a call to a local charity to pick up the stuff the day after move out. Or take a floor lounge off line and offer specific hours when an RA opens the lounge for donation drop off. Then invite faculty/staff to all go “shopping” and donate the unsold items to charity.
Every little bit helps. And you’ll see reductions in your waste removal costs. It’s a win/win!