Discover How George Washington University Is Turning Dorm Move-Out Day Into A Sustainable Charity

One man's trash is another man's treasure

There’s a wide variety of things that can be found in a college dorm room, but they generally have one unfortunate commonality: they’re thrown into the trash when the student moves out.

Because it's easier to toss things out rather than re-home unwanted items from dorms, tens of thousands of pounds of perfectly good 'garbage' are added into local landfills each year.

Thankfully, a George Washington University alumnus named Ira Basemen developed a program in 2013 that decreases the burden on landfills by reducing waste. The Green Move-Out program makes it easier for the students to donate their unwanted items to specific charities that can make the most use out of them. At the end of the school year throughout the month of May, specially marked bins are placed in the hallways of dormitories so that students who are packing up to leave for the summer can easily throw out unwanted items. 

Volunteers then sift through the bins, and divide the contents for the appropriate local charities.

William Atkins / The George Washington University
William Atkins / The George Washington University

Canned or nonperishable food is donated to a local food bank, clothing, linens, and household items are given to families in need or donated to resale shops. This year alone, the university staff, students, and community members who are responsible for orchestrating this program prevented 43,000 pounds of usable goods from entering the landfill and put it back to work for the community instead.

There are some items that cannot be donated under this program, such as open food containers and TVs and other large electronics, which are disposed of properly. However, it is hoped that the program, as well as its overall spirit of reducing waste, will spread throughout the campus and further reduce the amount GWU students throw away.

In addition to hooking up local charities with goods that will make a difference in the community, this program makes good economic sense for the university, as well. By donating items to different charitable organizations, the university doesn't have to pay for them to be picked up by dump trucks and hauled off to landfills. 

It’s a complete win-win, and that’s what sustainability is all about, Charlie Brown.

William Atkins / The George Washington University
William Atkins / The George Washington University

[Body images credited to William Atkins/The George Washington University]

[Special thanks: Brittney Dunkins, GW Today]

[H/T: @dowzerw]