UMass Amherst ‘Sustainable Move-Out’ will Reduce Waste in Residence Halls

*** MEDIA ADVISORY ***

DATE: Wednesday, May 9 to Thursday May 10, 2012

TIME: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

WHAT: Campus-wide Sustainable Move-Out

WHERE: All campus residence halls (such as Southwest Towers) and UMass Amherst Recycling Center, 151 Tillson Farm Rd., off North Pleasant Street in Amherst

UMass Amherst Students Urged to Reuse, Recycle and Donate

It’s once again the end of the semester at UMass Amherst and more than 12,000 students will be packing up and moving out of 45 campus residence halls for the summer, and that means one thing: Lots of stuff. But thanks to a partnership in its fifth year between the Campus Sustainability Initiative, the Office of Waste Management and Residential Life, all that "stuff," tons of unwanted furniture, electronics, clothing, school supplies, and food, can be diverted from a landfill or incinerated and prevented from eventually ending up in the air or water.

"Sustainable Move-Out" takes place each year after finals and runs through commencement. For two weeks, signs and special recycling stations inside and outside of each residence hall direct students to sort their paper files, notebooks, bottles and cans before move-out and to recycle all of that unwanted material, including unopened perishable food items that are donated to local food pantries, and clothing and school supplies which go to Goodwill and other charities. Bulky waste stations are set up for collection of rugs, carpets, mirrors, plastic and wood furniture, while separate recycle stations are set up to collect TVs, computers, printers, metal items, futon mattresses and cement blocks.

"Students need to know that there is no ‘away’ for all of this stuff" says senior Sarah Hebert, student sustainability coordinator for the Campus Sustainability Initiative. "When we leave behind or throw away unwanted furniture and electronics we are damaging the environment."

Many hours of work are put into planning, promoting and implementing this program each year. Ted Mone, associate director of operations for Residential Life, meets with students, waste management and sustainability staff before Earth Day in early April to plan the two week waste reduction effort. "It’s really important for our residents to get the help they need during move out to sustainably dispose of unwanted items, so that when they head home for the summer they hopefully realize they did a good thing," says Mone.

Move out is a busy time for other staff like John Pepi, manager of solid waste for the Office of Waste Management. "Out of the over 6,600 tons of waste generated on campus each year, we recycle 3,700 tons and this is not easy, especially during move out time," says Pepi. At the end of the Sustainable Move-Out Campaign for the spring semester of 2010, UMass collected 6.7 tons of clothing, which was all donated to the Amherst Survival Center and Salvation Army. One ton of food was also collected and donated to the Survival Center. Based on data from May 2007, the first year of the program, UMass Amherst reduced its total waste generation from 404 tons to 294 tons. Out of the 294 tons collected, 37.5 tons was bulky waste (rugs, futons, computer chairs, etc.). Campus officials hope to continue to reduce the overall waste generated each year of the program.

Contact: UMass Amherst Office of Waste Management, 413/545-9615