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Staying Sustainable: Can you avoid waste while moving out?

May 8, 2014

As Beloit counts down to the end of another school year, students are undoubtedly excited to take a summer break from life in residential halls. But the end of the year is not always so bright: the process of moving Beloiters out of their residential halls presents certain challenges. One of those challenges is the amount of waste created as students move out. To combat this, Beloit is taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of the waste that the end of a school year can bring.

The give-and-take box: RAs will provide boxes for students to drop off unwanted clothes, objects, school suppliesyou name it. Any objects left in a Give and Take box are up for grabs. Some underclassmen even go “Give and Take Hunting” at the end of the school year to grab supplies for their next year at Beloit. Any objects left after the end of the school year are rounded up by student volunteers and brought to the Coughy Haus, for students to pick through supplies one last time. After that, any unclaimed items are donated to the Salvation Army.

Peace and Justice Club also hosts “Really Really Free Markets” throughout the year as well. These events collect many of the materials in Give and Take boxes, and promote efforts to reuse clothes and objects that are in working condition. Residential Life also re-upholsters furniture to extend the life of the many chairs and couches on campus.

Another method to reduce Beloit’s waste is recycling used mattresses. A more recent effort, mattresses were first recycled in the summer of 2013 and this is expected to continue. Although the process is slightly more expensive, the investment by Beloit has meaningful environmental gains. According to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, 85 percent  of used mattresses can be easily recycled. This saves on greenhouse gas emissions in two ways:  only 15 percent of the mattress is sent to the landfill to decompose, and when the other 85 percent of materials are broken down and recycled, manufacturers who receive the materials don’t use as much virgin material such as steel, cotton fiber, and petroleum products to make mattress foam.

Although Beloit has implemented these waste-reducing measures, there is still a large amount of material that is not recycled. In reference to the waste generated by students during move-out, “Our privilege really shows,” said Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life John Winkelmann. As Beloit continues to develop sustainable programing, students are encouraged to take responsibility for their waste. As a community, Beloit students can step it up to curtail their environmental impact.

This year, be mindful about what you are leaving behind at Beloit, and how your things can be recycled, reused, shared, or donated. For instance, any soiled items or plates and silverware with traces of food are thrown out. Instead, take five minutes to wash them, and then place them in the Give and Take boxes. Increased student responsibility and participation can reduce waste, and can improve the process of cleaning out the residence halls for student volunteers and housekeeping staff.

There are many easy steps to take to recycle much of your waste. Beloit has well-known means of recycling paper, cardboard, glass, etc. Printer ink cartridges and reusable batteries can also be recycled by taking them to ISR: Mayer Hall, room 219. Best Buy will take many forms of e-waste at their stores. will give you money for your used electronics, and will take care of all shipping costs.*

Sustainability at Beloit does not end with Commencement. Reduce the waste that you generate and be responsible with the goods you leave behind before you depart for the summer.

*Mention of these companies does not intend or imply endorsement by Beloit College.