March 21, 2013
Number of pounds of reusable materials collected during move-out on the University of Colorado campus:
2012 -- 42,012
2011 -- 20,144
2010 -- 15,354
2009 -- 19,432
2008 -- 22,070
2007 -- 18,922
Source: CU Recycling
University of Colorado students moving out of the dorms last spring donated 42,012 pounds of stuff -- fans, mirrors, snowboards, computer printers -- which is more than double the amount of donations made the previous spring, according to a new report.
It could be a sign of an improving economy. In the thick of the recession, it appears, students were more likely to hold on to their goods, donating 15,354 pounds of reusable items in 2010 and 20,144 pounds in 2011.
The CU Environmental Center this week released a report detailing its collections during the last move-out cycle, when the school, for the first time ever, partnered with Goodwill to divert dorm room leftovers from the landfill.
The authors of the report say it's difficult to pinpoint why there was a 108 percent increase in the weight of donations, pointing to the possibility that students are purchasing new items at the start of every school year -- which raises the brows of environmental advocates.
"As this is great for our donation program, it is reversing the waste reduction trend witnessed from 2008-2010," the report says.
Other reasons contributing to the increase could be the brand recognition associated with Goodwill and the increased student population in residence halls as the new Williams Village North dorm, for example, housed 500 students.
Goodwill paid CU Recycling $2,000 to help cover the cost of labor and marketing. And the partnership saved CU an additional $2,000 in trash hauling costs.
Dan Baril, of CU Recycling, said high-price items -- including flat-screen televisions and snowboards in fine condition -- have ended up in the donation bins.
Every year, loads of tall mirrors, fans and futons end up being donated by students, Baril said, and he suggests students consider buying those items used as a way to cut down on waste.
During move-in next month, CU Recycling will have bins at loading docks for cardboard boxes and Styrofoam, and ambassadors will help students and their parents flatten boxes and educate them about recycling.
Mike Pritchard, vice president of business development for Goodwill, said the nonprofit set up 23 donation stations in the lobbies of CU residence halls. Goodwill also had stations set up near Dumpsters.
Every day for two weeks, Goodwill sent a truck to the campus to pick up goods, many of which landed at the retail store off of Broadway and Baseline Road, he said.
Pritchard said Goodwill has partnered with the University of Denver for two years and most recently began working with CU's Boulder campus, Metro State, Regis University and the Colorado School of Mines.
"They all have the same situation when move-out week comes around: Students leave stuff behind because they can't take it all home or no longer want it," he said.
Baril said CU prefers working with Goodwill because the items stay local -- and nothing is shipped abroad -- which reduces the carbon footprint of the donation process.
There were fewer "Dumpster divers" treasure-hunting in the residence halls and pilfering from donation stations, as well. For the third year in a row, CU police put up signs that said: "No Trespassing. Violators will be subject to arrest and prosecution."
CU Recycling also collected 1,190 pounds of non-perishable food for local charities, 569 pounds of personal care items for the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, and $247.81 in spare change, which was donated to the GlobeMed program at CU that works with villages in Nepal. And the university held a yard sale in the Williams Village complex that raised $3,250 for Eldorado K-8 in Superior.
Freshmen will begin moving into the dorms for the fall semester Aug. 21. But, for many students living on University Hill and other student-dense neighborhoods, leases begin expiring next week, and most of August will be a busy moving period.
Susan Stafford, of Off-Campus Housing and Neighborhood Relations, said property management companies tend to stagger move-out dates so they have time to do maintenance and get units ready for upcoming fall rentals.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.