As students emptied their dorms or apartments last week, some for the last time, there were plenty of items they didn’t want to take with them. But thanks to a first-time partnership with Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, much of what they discard won’t end up in a landfill. Instead, it will be donated, in an effort to decrease waste, increase sustainability awareness and positively impact local families.
Students know the week of May 13 through May 17 as finals week, and for many students, it was also move-out week. The move-out donations collection drive was highlighted by the numerous drop-off locations located throughout several campus buildings. John Gerow, residence life assistant director, said the drop-off locations were chosen to target students who were likely to donate.
“We know students are very generous; when they move out they see things they were using as freshmen but don’t want anymore,” Gerow said. “New items and gently used items are valuable to Goodwill Industries.”
Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin partners with several local organizations and also collaborated on a similar move-out project with UW-Oshkosh. As a nonprofit organization, all donations and revenue are used to help families in need, help people gain employment skills and go toward other charitable contributions. Jim Vanden Boom, Goodwill community engagement leader, was excited to start the collaboration with UW-Green Bay.
“Increasing education about sustainability, creating that awareness and better understanding of what these goods can do for a community is important,” Vanden Boom said. “This project will also help UW-Green Bay reduce costs and help continue its tradition of being a ‘green’ university.”
As part of move-out week, Goodwill provided a semi truck on May 15 to pick up large household items like couches, chairs and desks. All students, faculty and staff were invited to donate their gently used items in an effort to reduce landfill waste. Laurie Case, UW-Green Bay sustainability and strategic planning coordinator, says the items donated to Goodwill will reduce the amount of debris entering the waste stream.
“This program is such a great opportunity for community members to participate in sustainability efforts and contribute to a great cause at the same time,” Case said. “Maybe students will be packing their bags and say ‘well, I haven’t used this in the four years I’ve been here, maybe I’ll donate it.’ ”
Donations made by UW-Green Bay students, faculty and staff will be weighed after all the collections have been made. Vanden Boom says the success of the new program shouldn’t be made by focusing on a single number.
“Every pound of donations is as important as any other,” he said.
Story by James Taylor, University Communication intern. Photos by James Taylor and UW-Green Bay Sustainability Coordinator Laurie Case.