Colleges produce a lot of waste throughout the year, but there may be no time when campuses produce more than the end of the school year when students move out. During move out, rather than hauling their mini-fridges and futons home, students often opt to get rid of them. According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, a collaboration of UMass Amherst students and staff called New2U is determined to keep these useful products from being disposed of.
During the week that students move out of dorms, the New2U team and volunteers set up collection tents near dumpsters and try to intercept as many reusable and recyclable products as possible. In the fall when students move in, New2U organizes a tag sale where they sell the diverted materials at discount prices.
Their strategy has paid off both figuratively and literally. In 2016, New2U diverted approximately 12 tons of items and generated $11,000 in revenue from the tag sale. That revenue goes directly into the Sustainability, Innovation & Engagement Fund which supports campus sustainability initiatives.
A central aim of New2U is to educate students on the value of reusing items. In the Gazette article, campus sustainability manager Ezra Small notes, “If you do something for four years, it kind of becomes the norm and students don’t really know what it was like before you started doing that thing.” Just as recycling has become a cultural norm for many people, the New2U team is seeking to make reusing items an expectation.
RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts assists businesses and institutions with recycling and food waste reduction through food donation and composting. RecyclingWorks also hosts two College & University Forums each year so that colleges can share best practices about waste reduction, reuse, and diversion. To speak to a recycling expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.