The University of Michigan donated more than 12.5 tons of clothing, bedding, household goods and food to local organizations to benefit the Ann Arbor and surrounding communities following Student Move-Out this year.

For more than 25 years, reusable items have been collected on campus as part of the Student Move-Out Donation Program that encourages students living in the residence halls to donate slightly used items instead of sending them to the landfill.

This year’s collection marked one of the highest donation amounts in the program’s history, which collectively has donated more than 264 tons of goods since 1993.

Photo of items collected through the Student Move-Out Donation Program.
Some of the more than 12.5 tons of items collected through this year’s Student Move-Out Donation Program. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Campus Sustainability)

“The program is a great way for students moving out of residence halls to donate items they no longer need, while keeping material out of the landfill,” said Alison Richardson, recycling coordinator at the Office of Campus Sustainability and organizer of the program.

“All of these items then go to benefit individuals and non-profit groups in the local community.”

Planet Blue logo

Other campus partners involved in the move-out program include Logistics, Transportation and Parking, Waste Management Services and Student Life.

Items were donated this year to Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop, Ann Arbor Thrift Shop, Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, Food Gatherers and The Salvation Army.

“We focused primarily on collecting small appliances and housewares,” said Claudia Vocino of Ann Arbor Thrift Shop.

“Our volunteers left the event with many items which have already been purchased and are now having a second life in our customers’ homes. Our sales support many individuals and social service organizations within the Ann Arbor School District.”

Each year, yellow collection boxes are set up in the residence halls for students to choose to donate — but not dump — their no-longer-needed items. Items collected range from food, shoes and clothing to toiletries and household items, including cooking utensils and small appliances.

Waste Management Services then picks up the items to be sorted before they are donated to local organizations.

Clothing continues to be the top item donated at nearly 5 tons, followed by bedding (3.89 tons) and household items (2.43 tons).

Photo of Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop picking up items
Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop was one of five local organizations that received donations collected from Student Move-Out this year. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Campus Sustainability)

“The quantity and quality of useful personal and home goods left behind by students, and the invitation to collect items from the move-out, supplements our affordable inventory and keeps items out of the landfill,” said Paulette Brown, general manager at the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop.

“Not only do our customers get great selections and deals, the end result is a positive impact on our mission of supporting the Ann Arbor Public School PTOs and students by the resale of gently used items in the shop.”

New this year, a group of sustainability-minded students called the Planet Blue Student Leaders hosted an off-campus, curbside donation collection in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit.

Their program, UMove-Out, resulted in nearly 600 items collected from off-campus student residences and donated to Goodwill.

“We found disconnects between the sustainability resources available to students in the residential communities on campus and the perceived lack of comparable resources in off-campus neighborhoods,” said Crede Strauser, one of the Planet Blue Student Leader organizers of UMove-Out and an undergraduate student in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

“For us, that meant providing nearly the same level of convenience as the alternative of putting items out with trash. By partnering with Goodwill, southeast Michigan communities will gain access to quality furniture, clothing, and more at affordable prices.”

The Student Move-Out Donation Program and the UMove-Out program support the university’s commitment to reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill by 40 percent by 2025.

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