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Making reuse part of the college move-in and move-out experience

2023-08-21 8:00 AM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

The move-in and move-out days at college can be some of the most hectic times on campus. For out-of-state students and those living in the campus residence halls, managing and storing furniture, supplies, and equipment can be difficult during the summer. Some items are only needed for a year and often end up being tossed or tucked away in a basement. It’s not always clear how to engage in sustainable use and reuse as a college student, but some universities are pursuing initiatives to make it easier and more accessible.

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota ReUse Program operates a Pack & Give Back program, a semi-annual donation sort in which materials from the college community are collected and then offered for free to students. This program runs at the end of each semester and aims to divert usable goods from the campus waste stream and reduce the demand for new purchases.

Another service the University of Minnesota ReUse Program provides is the summer storage program. The program began in 2020 when the pandemic required the storage of student-owned materials since many were not about to return to campus after spring break. Since then, it has become a resource for students needing short-term storage for small items. Participating students receive a triple wall box to pack their items for storage and pay $40 per box for the duration of the summer. From there, the boxes are stored in a university warehouse that uses pallet racking. There are currently 175 students who have taken advantage of the opportunity, totaling up to 26,592 pounds of materials stored. More students are anticipated to sign up when leases end throughout August. Unclaimed items are held for ninety days and then donated to the Pack & Give Back program.

Macalester College

Macalester College features zero waste programs on its sustainability page, including free swaps, a free garage sale after move-out, and “Make Art Not Waste” - an annual student-led Earth Week event encouraging students to engage in environmental activism through art created by materials destined for the landfill. University-level reuse and waste reduction programs are essential in fostering sustainable minds and empowering students to continue championing the climate movement through academia, advocacy, and action.

Are you a college student looking to pick up more sustainable habits, for environmental or economic reasons? Check out Hennepin County’s budget-friendly sustainable living guide for college students, keep an eye out for community reuse or repair activities, and encourage your university to initiate these programs that support more sustainable reuse options, particularly during move-in/move-out!

Reuse Minnesota was founded in 2012 and is a member-based nonprofit that supports repair, resale, and rental businesses, bringing visibility to the reuse sector as a means to lower our state's impact on the environment.

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