Like dorm-dwellers everywhere, Temple University students end up acquiring stuff over the course of the school year that they don't necessarily want to schlep home. Instead of throwing it away, they can participate in the Give + Go Green program organized by the university's offices of Residential Life and Sustainability.
Students can donate useful items of all kinds. "We set up collection centers in the lobbies of all our residence halls," says Jim Poole, assistant director of residential life, who spearheads the program. The bins were already full to overflowing before final exams even started.
Many schools, including Penn, have similar programs to keep these items out of the waste stream. Temple's program is different because rather than selling the goods in a yard sale, they donate them directly to agencies that can use them.
Nonperishable food goes to Philabundance; clothing, furniture and home goods go to Goodwill; electronics go to the campus computer recycling center; and art and office supplies, like pens, paper, binders and clips, go to Temple's internal office-supply swap.
"The biggest problem, though, has been area rugs," Poole explains. "The residence halls have tile floors, so we have hundreds of these, thousands." The rugs weigh a lot, so diverting them from the waste stream was a priority. Temple is now partnering with Revolution Recovery of Northeast Philadelphia to recycle them.
This is the third year of Temple's campus-wide program, after a small-scale pilot four years ago. They diverted 12,000 pounds of material from the waste stream in 2010 and 14,000 pounds in 2011. Poole hopes to hit 15,000 pounds this year. "It would be OK with me if the number went down, though," he says. "That would mean that people were shopping smarter and consuming less."