PSU students donate 9 tons of goods to local charity
Author: Laura Gleim, Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Posted: June 27, 2014

Students moving out of Portland State University residence halls last week donated more than 9 tons of used clothing, household goods, furniture, and nonperishable food to local charities. 

The University’s Campus Sustainability Office led the effort, called Chuck It for Charity, setting up collection stations throughout the PSU campus to make it easy for students and families to drop off unwanted items while packing up and vacating their homes away from home.

“It was overwhelming to see how much stuff a college student accumulates over the course of their education. It was also rewarding to witness so much of what students accumulated being donated to needy families here in the Portland area instead of being buried in our landfills,” said Anthony Hair, waste management coordinator for the PSU Campus Sustainability Office.

With 1,251 students moving out, donations amounted to about 14 pounds of clothing and other goods per student. Here’s a breakdown:

  • 6,500 pounds of clothing and textiles were donated to ARC of Multnomah-Clackamas County and Cascadia Gaia Movement.
  • 9,500 pounds of household goods and furniture were donated to Community Warehouse and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.
  • 200 pounds of food were donated to the ASPSU Food Pantry.
  • 2,000 pounds of school and office supplies were donated to the PSU ReUse Room.

The ReUse Room, which collects donated office supplies and provides them for free to the PSU community, got a substantial bump in inventory from the program. Staff restocked the shelves two to three times each day with dishes, lamps, carpets, cleaning supplies, and more, and by the next morning the shelves had been picked clean. Staff also filled up an otherwise empty overstock room with goods, which they plan to distribute in the ReUse Room throughout the coming months.

“This project represents a significant achievement for PSU’s waste reduction efforts and overall climate action goals,” said Jenny McNamara, campus sustainability manager. “It also had the added benefit of educating students in residence halls about reuse and conscious consumption.”

Waste minimization has been a focus of sustainability efforts at PSU this year. Last fall, the Campus Sustainability Office (CSO) hired Anthony Hair as the full-time waste management coordinator. Hair, in collaboration with classes and student volunteers, conducted five waste audits on campus throughout the year to track and educate the community about recycling, composting, and reuse.

CSO also extended the hours of the ReUse Room located in Cramer Hall 180; initiated Mug Runners, an effort to collect and redistribute reusable mugs and water bottles; and began hosting Pop-Up Swaps, on-site office supply exchanges for individual buildings.

On July 10, PSU will partner with Metro to host a Let’s Talk Trash event with Pulitzer Prize–winning author Ed Humes about his book “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash.” Find more info about the event here.