Going Green – Instead of the Dumpster, Start Recycling these Items

Wednesday, May. 27th 2009 6:15 PM

If you are a college sophomore or upperclassman, you have experienced the full-frontal assault of the end of the year dorm clean out.

Because some students have exams right through Friday afternoon, then have only until 12:00 p.m. Saturday to be out of their room, there is no time to appropriately deal with all the items in the dorm room or on-campus apartment. Not only is there simply too much accumulated stuff to fit all of it in your car without making multiple trips home, you simply don’t have the time to deal with breaking the stuff down so that it might fit.

The result, loads of valuable items get tossed into the dumpster or in most cases by the end of the week, piled alongside an overflowing trash unit. Chairs, couches, tables, VCRs, and even television sets can be seen sitting on top of these containers or resting on the curb beside these huge bins.

Perhaps the most appalling aspect is the realization that the space in your car is already spoken for yet you are now witness to literally piles of items that you would scoff up in a minute if it were the beginning of the school year.

Schools and Students Taking Action

More and more, as green-eyed students across the country become aware of the earth and the need for greater sustainability, recycling programs have started to emerge for this end of the year clean out. The goal is simple: reduce the number of reusable items heading to a landfill or transfer station and get them into the hands of another potential user.

There are many successful ways to deal with the process. One simple step is for a group of students to locate a place for storage of viable items, especially the larger units such as mini-refrigerators and other electronic gear. Then, using a group of student volunteers, these unwanted items are collected and taken to the storage facility to be sorted out.

The following fall, those very same items are put up for sale to the incoming students at the school. Any collected funds that remain after the costs of storage have been taken care of are either donated to worthy charities or to the school’s nonprofit sustainability organization to further sustain a school’s green mission (if one exists).

Another common method of dealing with the leftover items is to involve community organizations and use them to solicit volunteers for all the handling tasks as well as the storage of items. Instead of selling them to students, the collected items can be sold in a massive community yard sale. Later, the proceeds from any sales can then be divided among the nonprofit groups according to the time each specific organization puts into collecting and selling the items.

Want to Start a Program?

Many other programs are underway with variations on these themes. In certain instances, students can simply leave unwanted items in their dorm room where they will be collected later.

Still, there are a number of schools where the idea has not caught on.

If you are interested in getting such a program started at your university, a nonprofit called Dump and Run helps interested groups. They can offer ideas regarding item collection, donation and storage, as well as appropriate ways of handling the cash that comes from selling the collected materials.

If the end of the 2009 school year has come and gone and your school still is not on board, it would make a perfect project for next year. Students interested in starting a program at their school can contact Dump and Run for assistance and advice.

Ultimately, the end-of-the-school-year recycling program is a true win-win. No student ever feels good about throwing such material in a dumpster. And our landfills/transfer stations are already strapped with mountains of trash.

Posted by Thomas | in College Life, Finance | No Comments »

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