Thursday, May 15, 2008


Lasell College is a quiet place today. Most students have now moved out of the residence halls and left for their summers of political canvassing and environmental activism. Maybe not, but that is what I like to imagine my students doing.

The move-out process at college campuses is notorious for the amount of waste generated. Students toss cinder blocks, refrigerators, carpets, laundry detergent, food, and a host of other things. I've observed that the level of waste is a function of year in college. Freshmen and sophomores typically live in traditional dormitory-style housing and will bring home most of the contents of their room. I kept an eye on the dumpster near Woodland Hall this move-out season, and I did not get the impression that the waste generated was over the top.

That can't be said for upperclassmen who live in suite-style housing and share resources such as couches and coffee tables. Frequently, these items get tossed at the end of the year, and the college has to absorb the disposal cost. The worst violators are the seniors who are finished with school and ready to unload all of their college possessions into the dumpster.

As Lasell College continues to move towards greener pastures, the move-out process is something we will need to evaluate. I may call upon students in our new Environmental Studies program to help create a program to keep dorm items out of the waste stream. Many schools have already created creative programs. Take a look at the program at UVM. Harvard collects items and hosts a stuff sale to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. They have raised over $70,000 for the organization by selling items that would have ended up in the trash during move-out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Going back to your blog about Dumpster Diving... If anyone is interested in dumpster diving, the end of the semester is the time to do it. We have a college nearby and after a trip to the dumpsters, my friends came home with 2 card tables, unused pots and pans, lawn furniture and a few other items all in perfect condition.

There are also a lot of charitable organizations that could use the furniture and other items that students are tossing. Some would probably even come pick the stuff up. is a program designed to eliminate this unnecessary and foolish waste.