During Move-In this past September, Frist South Lawn once again resembled a yard sale as part of our second annual Move-In Resale. Featured were rows of couches, futons, lamps, rugs, and more. The 3,000+ dorm items were collected the previous semester through the expanded Greening Move Out program. The Resale attracted nearly 500 undergraduate and graduate students, and sold or gave away every single item, generating sales of nearly $10,000. The money earned during the sale will be used to expand and support the Greening Move Out operations next spring, covering costs of storage, transport, and student pay.
Greening Move Out originally began as a donation program, diverting items left on campus during move out to local charities and non-profit organizations. Despite these early efforts, there were still many dorm items that were not captured for donation, and a growing desire to keep items in good condition in circulation on campus, especially for students in need. With this in mind, items at the Resale were heavily discounted and the sale opened an hour early for Princeton students from the Freshman Scholars Institute (FSI) and the Princeton Hidden Minority Council (PHMC) and also provided students with coupons for additional discounts at the sale.
EcoReps Greening Move Out Leader, Erin Redding ’19 explains, "I knew how expensive and difficult finding storage for items on campus was from personal experience, and I also knew the annual costs that Princeton students face during move in. To me, the answer seemed obvious. The surplus of items students faced at move out was the solution to the lack of items at reasonable prices they faced during move in. In the spring, there would be entire dorm rooms of viable dorm items with signs that said, "Free, Please Take" whereas three months later in the fall students would write Facebook posts reading "Please Sell Me Your ....!" Closing the loop and bridging the spring move out with the fall move in would prevent unnecessary purchases of large, unstoreable items, and divert items from the landfill to be reused in a different student's dorm. It just made economic and environmental sense.”
In addition to storing items for resale, the Move Out program continued to work with local organizations to donate items that could not be resold. The donation totals from both move out periods included an entire Goodwill truck full of over 200 bags of clothing (about 6,000 pounds) along with about 7 large containers of dorm accessories. The Move Out team partnered with two new donation partners this year, Grad Bag and Better World Books. Grad Bag collected 140 bags of linens (about 2,000 pounds) plus some dorm accessories that were cleaned and provided to first-generation low-income students in the tri-state area. Read more about Grad Bag in our interview with co-founder Liz Gruber. From the combined Move Outs, over 900 books were donated to Better World Books in coordination with Building Services' existing book donation program. Returning donation partners included the Rescue Mission of Trenton and Arm in Arm, who accepted dorm accessories and food donations, respectively.
Redding further commented, “The amount of interest and praise we ended up having for Greening Move-Out/Move-In surpassed even our most hopeful expectations, but it also demonstrated the immense need for students to have an on-campus option for recycling and purchasing inexpensive dorm items. A huge plus is that the program practically pays for itself, and with the continued support of a more diverse range of offices and associations on campus, we hope we can scale up the program to a size where all reusable items are captured during move-out, and all of campus can participate in the resale. "
Planning for Greening Move-Out 2019 is already underway, with plans to further expand and operationalize the efforts.