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Student move-out donations divert waste from landfill, aid local nonprofit

By Kristen Kaufman | Emory Report | June 26, 2018

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As students moved out of residence halls, the “Don’t Dump It, Donate It” program provided conveniently located bins and trucks to make it easy to donate unwanted items.

At the end of every academic year, a massive spring cleaning occurs on Emory’s campus as students prepare to move out of their residence halls. The “Don’t Dump It, Donate It” program supports Emory’s sustainability goals by making it easy for students to donate items rather than throw them in dumpsters headed for landfills.

Run in partnership by Housing, Residence Life, Campus Services/Emory Recycles teams and the Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI), “Don’t Dump It, Donate It” takes place for multiple weeks at the end of the spring semester and is part of Emory’s annual commemoration of Earth Month.

Emory Recycles places specifically marked bins near all residential halls, including fraternity and sorority housing. There are also trucks to collect larger items such as furniture. Donations include school supplies, books, clothing, appliances and household items.

“This year, we expanded both the scope and the timing of the program, offering more convenient donation locations and beginning earlier in the semester, on Earth Day,” says Jonathan Cooper, director of housing facilities and operations. 

He notes that the event’s success stemmed from “high expectations from our residents” coupled with the fact that Housing, Residence Life, Campus Services/Emory Recycles, and the OSI “gave the residents the tools they needed to meet our expectations.” 

 “We are pleased to have been a part of this successful program, diverting so many items from local landfills,” Cooper adds.

This program supports Emory’s goal to divert 95 percent of waste from municipal landfills, which is part of its Sustainability Vision for 2025.

This year, approximately 368,000 pounds (184 tons) of donations were diverted from landfills and sold for re-use through the Emory Surplus Property.

Over $4,000 was raised through the sale; $3,304 of that was donated to Global Growers, a local non-profit that provides sustainable agriculture opportunities for refugee families. Global Growers builds healthier communities and sustainable food markets by facilitating connection to land and education for refugees.

In 2018, Emory’s “Don’t Dump It, Donate It” program saw an increase in donations during May, along with increased participation in the move-out sale of over 500 attendees. 

Deena Keeler, assistant director of auxiliary services, cites a continually strengthened “synergy between Housing Operations, Campus Services and the Office of Sustainability” as the root of this year’s increase in participation.

She notes that Global Growers “was selected by the students,” indicating that this synergy is expanding both within and beyond the Emory community.

“Not only does this program help Emory move closer to its landfill-free campus goals, but also provides for lower income communities in and around the Atlanta area,” she says.