Seeing a reduction in the trash generated by college students

I love in a college town, this weekend was the close of classes.  With finals completed comes the mass exodus from town.  While there are a lot of  benefits of living in a college town, those of us who live here year round enjoy the shorter lines at the grocery store and less traffic when the campus closes down.

What none of us like is the waste we find at the curb from their apartments and dorm rooms.  Each year the piles are huge.  New computers, perfectly good furniture and much more is tossed to the curb.  But whether it is the change in the economic health of our country or a change in philosophy this year came with very little trash compared to the last 25 years I’ve lived here.

Why does so much get tossed out?  The simple answer is that if students are moving home they don’t have room to store an entire apartment in their parents home.  The more complicated answer is that I have believed they just didn’t care what happened to their cast-offs since they didn’t buy it in the first place.

Tufts University in 1993 reported that normal college waste is approximately 180 tons, but in the months of April and August that number rises by 50 tons more.  If you are curious about the amount of waste generated by American households or your college campus click here.

This may be changing.  In my building six apartments were vacated, they were filled with a total of eight students.  The normal trash would have filled several dumpsters to the point of overflowing.  This year, their cast-offs didn’t even fill one dumpster halfway.

Two larger items were left behind, these were the only large items left which is surprising.  I’m a sucker for some thing I can save from the landfills.  One was a wooden rocking chair that is falling apart at every place the wood had been joined together.  It needs a good sanding and refinishing – after gluing it back together.

As you can see I have my work cut out for me, but it won’t cost me a cent to do the work.  I have some left over primer, plenty of sandpaper, and my favorite Gorilla Glue.  My son had some left over paint from a shelf I refinished for his children that I will use to dress it up.    I have the perfect place for it.  Once restored I will place it under the sumac trees in the shade for everyone in the building to use.

The other was a loveseat.  I had been wanting to replace the twin bed that came with my apartment, so I dragged both pieces into my home.  I will have the management pick up the twin bed to use in one of their other apartments where a bed may be  damaged enough to need replacing.  this will save them that additional expense.

It fits perfectly and all I did was add the two blue pillows on each side which I already had.    If I had gone out to purchase some thing, I  wouldn’t have picked this pattern on the cushions, but being free, I’m happy with it.

Some college campuses are addressing the issue of good items ending up in the trash by starting initiatives which collect items that can be reused. Click here for more on this story.

I wandered through town Saturday afternoon as I headed to the library.  The students were leaving hurriedly, yet the town was not overrun with garbage for the first time.  Whatever the reason, I’m happy to say I have hope the younger generation may be getting the message about the problems created by our trash.


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