As any baby boomer parent can tell you, this generation of students has crammed a remarkably huge amount more stuff into their dorm rooms than we did - even though the miniaturization of college life is better now with Ipods and laptops. The deal now is that your order your kids' "necessities" through a big box store and pick them up at the closest store to your campus. This is incredibly easy at the beginning of the term, but poses enormous challenges at the end of term. Typical problems are lamps and rugs - too large and too expensive to ship anywhere, but not provided by res life. With very minimal storage options, lots of microwaves, swivel chairs, mini-refrigerators and scads of clothes have gone straight into dumpsters. Where I live, the day the Penn students leave is practically a holiday West Philadelphia Dumpster Diver Day.
These past few years, mechanisms have been developed to help students be less wasteful and divert these perfectly functional items from landfill, saving colleges money and going easier on the planet. Dump 'n Run is a national organization that advises students and administration on how to run such programs. One nice twist is that many of them now store and resell these items to the next crop of students in the fall, with the proceeds going to charity. Many virtues are happening here: more responsible behavior by students, when the options are in place. High quality goods being REUSED, (higher on the resource ladder than recycling, which actually requires energy to break items down; most of the donated items aren't recyclable anyway). And this program saves incoming students money, by selling used items for cheap (saving resources at the same time), as well as raising proceeds for charity. Yasher koach to all involved!
Below is the info my freshman daughter forwarded me, from her college, FYI:
1. The PODs
PODs [portable on demand receptacles] are disbursed across campus. Feel free to donate items to the PODs and if there's something in a POD that you can use, it's yours for the taking.
2. WASTE NOT!
Consider donating items to the Waste Not! Item Collection and Tag Sale
During reading week, finals week, and senior week, areas will be marked off in the reshalls where you can leave stuff. If you live a program house, woodframe house, or apartment, you can call or email to arrange an item pickup!
Donate the following items:
clothing, furniture, refrigerators, microwaves, rugs, lamps, electronics, printers, alarm clocks, phones, textbooks, course packs, books for classes, other books, posters, dorm decorations, bedding, dishes, hangers, mirrors, CFL bulbs, electric tea kettles, food*, cleaning supplies*, laundry detergent*, brooms
*you can donate partially used items as long as they are sealed and in usable condition.
The items collected this semester will be sold back to the community at the beginning of next semester. Proceeds from the sale will go to local charities.
Check out the website for more information: http://www.wesleyan.edu/wsa/eon/wastenot