By Ayla Ekici
At the end of the academic year, Emory’s thousands of student-residents moved out of the residence halls, requiring them to make choices about what to keep and what to discard and how. Housing, ResLife, Building and Residential Services and the Office of Sustainability once again teamed up for the “Don’t Dump It, Donate It” campaign to bring landfill diversion to the forefront of the move out process. This program not only helped to make recycling, composting and donating easy and to divert over 87.32 tons from landfills, but it also aided Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation ,which received the proceeds from the collection and sale of donated items.
Waste diversion is an important component of Emory’s Sustainability Vision for 2025, which includes a goal to divert 95 percent of the University’s waste from municipal landfills. To build upon the strides achieved through the implementation of the waste policy in January 2018, Housing and Emory Recycles made some innovations to the “Don’t Dump It! Donate It” campaign to better align it with Emory’s waste program. Deena Keeler, director of auxiliary services, states that this year “options were provided for students to manage their personal items in a manner that aligns with Emory’s commitment to a zero landfill future.”
To carry out this effort, multiple bins and trucks for larger donation items were placed around campus, including near all residential halls and fraternity and sorority housing. Blue recycling bins and green composting bins were stationed alongside the few dumpsters that were placed on campus for items to be landfilled. Students had the option to utilize bags – blue bags for recycling, green bags for compost, and purple bags for small donations – to collect and transport items to the trucks and bins. Additionally, “volunteers and staff were on-site during heavy move out days to educate students and provide support with proper sorting of materials,” adds Keeler.
At Emory’s main campus, a total of 60,015 pounds, over 30 tons, of donations were collected, 50.81 tons were recycled and 5.65 tons were composted. Of the 30 tons donated, 28,648 pounds of clothing, 4,529 pounds of books, 2,259 pounds of supplies, 5,876 pounds of furniture, and 3,550 pounds of food, and 15,153 pounds of miscellaneous goods were collected.
At Emory’s Oxford campus, similar efforts have diverted a total of 7,116 pounds, over 3.56 tons, of items to donation. Of this total, 3,556 pounds of clothing, 518 pounds of books, 380 pounds of supplies, 429 pounds of furniture, 650 pounds of food, and 1,583 pounds of miscellaneous goods were collected.
Overall, this successful waste diversion campaign “was the result of a lot of behind the scenes coordination among numerous departments, and I am proud to be a part of this effort,” says Jonathan Cooper, director of housing and operations.