Rochester Institute of Technology students heading home this week have the chance to go green while helping new students arriving in August.
A new initiative, Goodbye, Goodbuy!, urges students moving out of their dorms and on-campus apartments to donate what they can instead of tossing their furniture, clothes, canned goods and other items in the trash. The items will be sorted and what can be reused will be sold at thrift store prices to new students coming to RIT.
“This is very much a student-led and driven initiative,” said Enid Cardinal, RIT’s senior sustainability adviser.
The project—the only one of its kind in the region—began a year ago, as Cardinal’s students were curious how much was being thrown away as students moved out of their dormitories and apartments. They found 225 tons of materials were sent to landfills, and only 27 tons were recycled. Non-perishable food and toiletries were collected then and donated to FoodLink and Bethany House, a local shelter for homeless women and children.
“We literally had tons of stuff being left behind—furniture and clothing—and that was only in the dorms,” said program manager Nick Giordano, a fourth-year political science and management information systems major from Greece, N.Y. “If this was only in dorms, what was left in other campus housing?”
Even electronics in good working order were left at the curb last year, presumably because people couldn’t fit them in their cars.
Cardinal’s co-op student last year, Nimrun Dhillon, an environmental sustainability, health and safety management major from Binghamton, N.Y., said canned good were collected on a very small scale then, with no advertising and only from dormitories.
“We probably missed a lot, but even so, the amount collected of just food was astounding,” Dhillon said. “That made us even more motivated to start a larger scale, well-planned effort to attempt to reduce waste of useable goods at move-out.”
This year, about 60 people have volunteered to help collect, sort and store items starting on May 18 and concluding on May 24. Collection areas will be in the lounge areas in dormitories, in Global Village, and next to dumpsters. There are 1,000 apartments on the RIT campus.
Several 40-foot-long storage units have been rented with a discount from DeCarolis Truck Rental and will contain the donations once they are sorted. Items are also being stored over the summer in the barn at RIT President Bill Destler’s home.
“Not only is it going to save students money in the fall, it will save money for the school because we aren’t sending it to the landfill,” said Giordano, who is managing the program as a co-op. “The only thing we won’t be taking is unlabeled liquids.”
After being sorted and cleaned, items to be sold to incoming students will be available Aug. 25–29 in the Clark Gym. Giordano, president-elect of RIT Student Government and an avid fan of thrift stores, said items will be sold with thrift store pricing. Items will even be able to be delivered for an additional fee.
Excess office supplies collected from moving students will be donated to the Rochester Central School District. Whatever is left unsold will be discounted, then available free for nonprofits.
“We’re just aiming to keep it out of the landfills,” Giordano said.