University partners with local agencies to recycle, reuse

Some interesting – and valuable – stuff gets discarded during the rush to clean out residence hall rooms and move home for the summer.

A student volunteer at Move Out 2012At the start of this year’s annual rite of spring, one student volunteer recounted finding a perfectly good set of golf clubs that had been abandoned last year. He claimed them, and is still using the clubs, he said.

“In the past, so many reusable items have been thrown away that people from off campus came to rummage through our dumpsters,” said Anya Spear, associate director of campus planning at CSU Monterey Bay.

In addition to sporting goods, electronics, clothing, furniture, lamps, microwaves, food, clothing and toiletries got haphazardly thrown in dumpsters when they could have been donated to organizations that serve the community.

Since 2010, Spear and student volunteers have been working to change the culture of waste with an event called Move Out. This year’s event runs from May 9 through 17, when 1,800 students will vacate their rooms. It is CSUMB’s largest waste diversion and educational outreach event of the year.

Last year’s event generated 17 tons (or 34,120 lbs.) of waste, recycling and donations on main campus alone; 7 tons were diverted from the landfill, a 42 percent diversion rate. After this year’s A chalk message reminds students to recyclefirst week, Hope Services estimates it has collected 800 pounds of reusable goods. Revenue generated by the sale of these items will help to fund the non-profit’s programs for people with developmental disabilities.

This year’s effort has been ramped up, with more volunteers to help educate students, more convenient places to discard recyclables, more education about the importance of the issue and more community partners.

A schedule and recycling guide have been posted in every residence hall. Blue donation carts, where clothing, small household goods and e-waste can be deposited, are located outside the halls. Barrels for food donations are located in the lobby of each building. Big dumpsters are located on several parking lots, clearly labeled for recyclables and garbage.

Sara Treat, environmental outreach coordinator for GreenWaste, the university’s waste hauler, pointed out that having volunteers at donation stations is helpful. “They’re getting questions from students, indicating that students are thinking about the issue as they pack up,” she said.

GreenWaste is among the community partners working with the university. Hope Services, Goodwill Industries and the Food Bank for Monterey County are also working with the university.

This year, donation collection services are available in East Campus for the first time. Curbside collection for furniture and other bulky items will be offered on May 16 and 19.

Move Out isn’t the only environmentally friendly end-of-semester event.

A local Boy Scout troop will help make commencement a near-zero-waste event. The scouts will staff waste sorting stations, making sure trash, recycling and compost go in the proper containers. After the event, they will bag all waste streams and scour the stadium to collect recyclables that were left behind. The money raised from the recycling fee refund will help to send the boys to camp.

Learn more about sustainability at CSUMB

Top photo: Max Lorenz works at 2012's move-out
Bottom photo: Chalk drawing reminds people to recycle