On college campuses across the country, students vacating residence halls and apartments typically fill barrels, recycling bins and Dumpsters until they are overflowing with items they can no longer use. Perfectly good linens, lamps, kitchen items, clothing and packaged food often get pitched.
This year, to cut down on the amount of waste generated during move-out while helping local residents in need, the university set up collection bins for the reusable items that students were discarding. Those goods, combined with food collected during an Earth Week donation drive on campus, were then sorted, packed up and distributed to three Lowell non-profit organizations.
“It was great being able to connect the university’s sustainability efforts with giving back to the community,” said Tyler Arrigo, an environmental sustainability program developer who helped organize the collection.
In all, more than 2,200 pounds of goods were delivered to the Lowell Humane Society, the Wish Project and the House of Hope. An additional 1,000 pounds of large electronics collected were recycled through Northeast Material Handling of Lowell. Bottles and cans collected were redeemed for funds that will benefit the new UMass Lowell Community Garden. The donation initiative was headed by the university’s sustainability and student affairs leaders.
“We are very pleased with the generosity of the UMass Lowell community and the support of our sustainability initiatives,” said Rich Lemoine, director of Environmental & Emergency Management. “To collect 2,200 pound of reusable food, linens, clothing and small appliances that may have otherwise been discarded as general waste and then repurpose them to assist local nonprofit agencies is truly fulfilling and reflects the supportive spirit of our campus community.”
In all, more than 80 pounds of linens were donated to the Lowell Humane Society, where the sheets, towels and other items will replenish the bedding for the shelter’s cages and pet carriers. The Wish Project, a goods bank that provides donated furniture, kitchen supplies, baby gear and clothing to the needy, received more than 1,600 pounds of clothing, shoes and household goods. The House of Hope, a family shelter, took delivery of nearly 600 pounds of food.
The donation project is an example of why UMass Lowell has been designated as a community-engaged campus by the Carnegie Foundation for Excellence in Training. UMass Lowell has also been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll – the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteerism, service learning and civic engagement.