By Charles Peckman
The Office of Sustainability and University of Iowa Housing & Dining will team up for the seventh year of “Donate, Don’t Dump,” which encourages dorm students to donate and recycle items that would otherwise be thrown out.
The event, which runs today through Saturday, will have trucks near Burge, Hillcrest, and Mayflower Residence Halls. There will also be Goodwill donation carts and donation barrels for the Johnson County Crisis Center in most residence-hall lobbies.
Accepted items include clothing, accessories, housewares, non-perishable foods, and cleaning supplies. Items that are not accepted are broken items, stained furniture, box TVs, and futons.
A full list of accepted items can be found online.
Recycling coordinator Beth MacKenzie said she is excited to give students the opportunity to donate their items.
“[Donate, Don’t Dump] started out as a student project; there was a student who gathered partners, and the Crisis Center was the first official partner,” MacKenzie said. “They started collecting food and cleaning supplies. After a few years of the Crisis Center, Goodwill came on board to collect clothes and furniture. This year, we expanded to collecting bikes for the Bike Library.”
MacKenzie said that although the event has been successful, it is difficult to gauge the number of items donated. This year, she said, the Sustainability Office plans on keeping more accurate data.
Data collection aside, MacKenzie said the addition of bike collection this year adds another element.
“It’s a really great opportunity for students to assign a home to items they wouldn’t take home with them,” she said. “They’re supporting community organizations such as the Crisis Center and Bike Library. It’s a way for students to demonstrate sustainable behaviors and the university to encourage those behaviors.”
MacKenzie said the success of the campaign depends on the number of volunteers it gets.
“It really depends heavily on volunteers,” she said. “This year we have 144 volunteer shifts we are trying to fill; the more volunteers we have, the more [waste] we can divert. I’m sure on Saturday morning, when everyone is trying to get out of the dorms, donating items will be the last thing on their minds.”
George McCrory, a Sustainability Office communications specialist, said the event has become “ingrained in the move-out process” at the UI.
“It’s a great way to get food and personal-care items out to those who need them,” McCrory said.
McCrory iterated MacKenzie’s excitement about the addition of bike collection.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “Even if the Bike Library gets a handful of bikes, that will be a good start, and we’ll build on it in the future.”
Maja Sunleaf, a residence assistant in Petersen Residence Hall, said she thinks the campaign will give students the opportunity to dilute the amount of waste during move-out week.
“I think it’s good the campaign is happening,” Sunleaf said. “In the past, there were unofficial events; students would leave items in the hallway during move-out, and other students would take them. This campaign allows items to go to the right places.”
Although Sunleaf said she is excited about the campaign, there are further events that could be implemented.
“A push to donate will have students thinking about other aspects, forcing students to ask themselves, ‘Should I have thrown that out?’ ” she said. “But I wonder if something like that can be available year-round on campus. What if there was a donation bin all semester on the Pentacrest or IMU?”