Reduce Waste at College Move Out

May 30, 2011 View all articles in General

The average college student produces 640 pounds of solid waste each year, most of which accumulates when that student prepares to move out of their dorm or house at the end of term. According to a study by Tufts University , there is a significant spike in the amount of solid waste generated on campuses during the months of May and June. Tufts registered as much as 50 more tons of waste when students leave for the summer than its average annual amount of 180 tons.

Most students who live in dorms or in on-campus housing have no place to store things before returning home, and can only take so much with them if they're flying. Just imagine the hundreds of electronics, appliances, clothes, books, posters, furniture, lamps, canned food items, and more that will be thrown into dumpsters, and eventually landfills, when spring term concludes this year. We've all heard the phrase, “One person's trash is another's treasure,” but actually putting it into practice is the key to college campus waste prevention.


Think Ahead: Waiting until the last minute to pack means you're rushing to get out of your dwelling by a certain date, so you just dump everything. It's hard with finals fast approaching, but thinking now about what you'll want to keep and discard will prevent that last-minute “just chuck it” mentality when you're packing.

Sell: This also takes some preparation, but organizing a dorm yard sale or selling your things online at sites like Craigslist and eBay are great ways to earn some money, and extend the useful life of items you no longer need.


  • Take the items you no longer use to your college's local Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, or a similar thrift store.
  • If that recent visit to Costco left you with a surplus of ramen noodles and microwave macaroni and cheese, take it to a food bank or soup kitchen.
  • You can also list free items on Craigslist or Freecycle.
  • Consult the list of items most drop-off centers and foundations will accept; found at the bottom of this page.

Recruit Help:

  • Bring Dump & Run to your campus; this organization provides college and university communities with waste prevention techniques and education. Students bring their unwanted items to a campus warehouse where they're stored over the summer, and then those items are sold to incoming students at bargain rates in the fall. It keeps waste out of the landfills and keeps students from purchasing new items, so it helps conserves resources in two ways!
  • Recruit local Boy Scouts to gather all the stuff that ordinarily lines the curb and overflows the dorm dumpsters.


  • Take your recyclables and trash to a centralized recycling station in your dorm and sort it into the appropriate bins.
  • If your college doesn't provide such options, look around for a grocery store where you can take your recyclables.
  • Visit to find an electronic recycling center near you so you don't dispose of batteries and computer equipment in the dumpster.

Repair: If you're throwing an electronic item or appliance away because it's not working, try filing a work order with your dorm's custodial service and ask that the item be picked up.

Please Give:

  • Clean clothing, shoes, sheets, blankets, and towels
  • Household goods, such as dishes and cookware
  • Working electronics (microwaves, fridges, and lamps – with cords)
  • Furniture
  • Books
  • School supplies (markers, scissors, lab goggles – anything kids can use in class)
  • Unopened food


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