On- and Off-Campus Student Move Out Recycling and Reuse Efforts a Huge Success

June 7, 2016

This year’s Ohio University Move Out provided students with more opportunities to recycle and donate unwanted items than ever before.

For four months leading up to graduation weekend, a planning committee convened with the goal of improving the Move Out process. Rural Action coordinated meetings between the City of Athens, Ohio University, Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers (AHRC), local nonprofit organizations, area landlords, and other community partners to encourage collaboration and increase opportunities to recycle, reuse and donate during Move Out. 

"As a landlord I've seen 26 of these Move Out weeks,” Ann Moneypenny, co-owner of Kleinpenny Rentals and volunteer for Upgrade Athens County, said. “Years ago everything from mattresses to clothes to empty kegs rolled down Mill St. and all our other in-town student rental areas. The efforts made in the past few years have been transforming. It is still a challenging weekend to be sure, but this effort is working and as a community member I am thrilled to see such progress!" 

The planning process resulted in several new initiatives to enhance Move Out efforts. One of the most notable was the pilot of a mattress recycling program. AHRC, which does all waste and recycling collection for the City of Athens, picked up 275 mattresses from off-campus rentals that filled two semi-trailers and were sent to Ohio Mattress Recycling. Athens Mold & Machine donated dock area space for loading the mattresses.

Ed Newman, board member of AHRC and developer of the mattress collection pilot, explained more about the benefits of the project.

“This project was intended to help reduce bulk materials going in dumpsters, public rights of way and disposal trucks. This allowed for greater capacity for dumpsters, and for disposal trucks to hold more trash before leaving the service area during the critical times, generally during the AM hours of the day. This results in less trips to the landfill and less downtime and less cost of disposal and wear and tear on equipment.”

The planning committee also came up with new marketing strategies. Kleinpenny Educational Fund, in partnership with Kevin Morgan Studios, Upgrade Athens County and the OU Campus Involvement Center, created graphics to educate students about proper disposal during Move Out. Emails encouraging off-campus tenants to visit their closest drop-off site were sent out to 8,300 off-campus students, and 1,600 Avalanche pizza boxes were distributed with the educational graphic pasted on top.

“Our marketing and communication efforts were significantly improved this year,” Kate Blyth, student zero waste coordinator at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, noted. Blyth managed a project of Athens Beautification Day wherein student volunteers handed out Move Out educational flyers in off-campus neighborhoods.

In addition to the new programming, many successful components of past Move Out efforts continued in 2016. The Voinovich School created an online map for students to find out where to donate their items and how to recycle. For the second year in a row, Athens Move Out Recovery Effort (AMORE) volunteers, which are sanctioned by the City, rescued still usable items to be donated to nonprofits.

“This is my first year of working with the Move Out movement,” Rick Sirois, Athens City Code Director, said. “I was impressed with the dedication and commitment that was demonstrated during meetings and on the actual Move Out event. We can only imagine what could be saved if this could be emulated throughout other college communities. A ‘job well done’ goes out to all the members, volunteers, and property owners. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fine job by Athens-Hocking Recycling Center, who did an outstanding effort at curbside clean up.”   

The Athens County Fair Board and Golden Gate 4-H also accepted usable goods from on-campus collection and AMORE volunteers, as they have done for the past several years. As many as 2,400 pieces of clothing, four tons of non-perishable food items, and 20 tons of furniture, carpet and other household goods were brought to the fairgrounds and the AHRC recycling facility on Rt. 13 by Ohio University Campus Recycling staff and volunteers. All items were subsequently given away the following week to community members in need.

Andrew Ladd, Ohio University Manager of Recycling and Zero Waste, spoke about the importance of the Fair Board and Golden Gate’s involvement. “The dedication and effort put forth by these organizations is truly astounding. These are individuals who put their community above all else. Over a thousand volunteer hours are put into the on-campus recovery efforts alone. The level of need in southeast Ohio continues to grow and I am proud to work with people who make it their mission to help.”

Building on the successes of 2016, the planning committee has big dreams for future Move Outs. Several committee members agreed that extending recovery of materials an extra week should be a focus of next year’s efforts. Recycling of damaged furniture and other hard-to-recycle materials is another priority concern.

This year’s participants in the Ohio University Move Out planning committee included: Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Campus Recycling and Campus Involvement Center; Athens-Hocking Recycling Center, City of Athens, Rural Action, AMORE, Kleinpenny Rentals, Upgrade Athens County, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, ReUse Industries, Southeast Ohio Food Bank and Kitchen, New to You Thrift Store, Lutheran Social Services, Friends & Neighbors, Athens County Fair Board, Golden Gate 4-H and Housing Hotlink. Mother Earth Thrift and Goodwill also served as drop-off locations.

To get involved with planning Ohio University off-campus student Move Out 2017, as an organization or concerned citizen, contact andrea@ruralaction.org