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Annual U-M student move-out produces 12.5 tons of household goods for local communities

U-M has been donating lightly used items in Ann Arbor area for 26 years

Credit: U-M Office of Campus Sustainability
Credit: U-M Office of Campus Sustainability

ANN ARBOR – Since 1993, the University of Michigan has been donating lightly used items, including bedding, clothing, food, toiletries and other household goods, collected during student move-out to local organizations.

This year was no exception. With more than 12.5 tons of household goods donated, it was one of the largest amounts in the Student Move-Out Donation Program's history.

Each year, the program encourages those living in the school's residence halls to donate items they don't want to avoid sending them to landfills. Yellow collection boxes are set up for donations, and the U-M Waste Management Service picks up and sorts the items before they are brought to local organizations.

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Collectively, the program has donated more than 264 tons of goods in its 26 years of operation.

"The program is a great way for students moving out of residence halls to donate items they no longer need while keeping material out of the landfill," Alison Richardson, recycling coordinator at the Office of Campus Sustainability and organizer of the program, said in a statement. "All of these items then go to benefit individuals and nonprofit groups in the local community."

Credit: U-M Office of Campus Sustainability

This year, items were donated to:

  • Ann Arbor Thrift Shop
  • Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop
  • Food Gatherers
  • Salvation Army
  • Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit

"We focused primarily on collecting small appliances and housewares," Claudia Vocino, of Ann Arbor Thrift Shop, said in a statement. "Our volunteers left the event with many items which have already been purchased and are now having a second life in our customers’ homes. Our sales support many individuals and social service organizations within the Ann Arbor School District."

How this year's donation breaks down

  • Clothing: Nearly 5 tons
  • Bedding: 3.89 tons
  • Household items: 2.43 tons

"The quantity and quality of useful personal and home goods left behind by students, and the invitation to collect items from the move out supplements our affordable inventory and keeps items out of the landfill," Paulette Brown, general manager at the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop, said in a statement.

"Not only do our customers get great selections and deals, the end result is a positive impact on our mission of supporting the Ann Arbor Public School PTOs and students by the resale of gently used items in the shop."

New off-campus initiative in 2019

New this year, the UMove-Out program organized by a group of students called the Planet Blue Student Leaders, collected nearly 600 items from off-campus student residences in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit.

"We found disconnects between the sustainability resources available to students in the residential communities on-campus and the perceived lack of comparable resources in off-campus neighborhoods," Crede Strauser, one of the planet blue student leader organizers of UMove-Out and undergraduate student at the Ross School of Business, said in a statement.

"For us, that meant providing nearly the same level of convenience as the alternative of putting items out with trash. By partnering with Goodwill, southeast Michigan communities will gain access to quality furniture, clothing and more at affordable prices."

The University of Michigan has committed to reduce by 40% the amount of waste sent to landfills by 2025.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.