With high hopes of a few relaxing months away from school, or perhaps fears of facing the apocryphal ‘real world’, it can be difficult for students to think sustainably when it comes to moving out at the end of spring semester.
At Ohio Wesleyan, moving out in May almost always incites dumpsters overflowing with discarded room trimmings such as carpets, couches, refrigerators, lamps, chairs and more.
The Delaware, Knox, Marion, Morrow (DKMM) Joint Solid Waste District awarded OWU a $10,000 grant as a way to help divert this yearly abundance of waste.
The donation will partially be used to rent 8 feet by 8 feet by 16 feet portable storage containers. These “PODS” will be stationed in various places around the residential side of campus in May; exact locations have not been chosen.
As students clear out their rooms, they will be advised to recycle reusable items, rather than disposing of them in dumpsters. Recyclable items will be stored in the PODS and then transported to a nearby Goodwill Industries where they will be sorted for resale.
Cheryl Corbin, fiscal administrator for the DKMM, said the group receives proposals from across the four Ohio districts they serve.
“Every year we have a recycling and market development assistance grant application,” Corbin explained.
“We try to solicit the community to come up with innovative ideas of how they can reduce waste going to the landfill. We felt that Ohio Wesleyan did come up with an innovative project.”
Corbin said that the DKMM has provided sustainability grants for past OWU projects as well.
“It is no guarantee that you will get a grant every year,” Corbin said. “It is a competitive process.”
OWU’s sustainability task force in part formulated the grant proposal. A portion of the $10,000 will be used for an educational program called “May Move Out.”
Members of the task force, students in John Krygier’s environmental geography and sustainability practicum courses, Buildings and Grounds and Residential Life staff, as well as members of the Tree House Small Living Unit (SLU) will be in charge of teaching the campus community how to recycle their unwanted items.
Michelle Smith, a senior and member of Tree House, is currently working to help carry out the “May Move Out” program as her house project.
“My initial interest [for my house project] was to bring the free store back to campus,” Smith said. She explained that she became interested in “May Move Out” after contacting some students in Dr. Krygier’s practicum courses who were working on the program.
“I am kind of the student organizer that is helping to get more people involved,” Smith said.
Smith said the grant will partially go toward paying the students for the work they will be doing to educate those living in fraternities, residence halls and SLUs on how to move out sustainably.
“It is still under discussion what exactly we will be doing,” Smith said. She explained the group is planning to do promotional work in the Hamilton Williams Campus Center and join forces with Residential Advisors in the residence halls as a way to spread the word.
Sophomore James Ormerod, a member of Tree House and participant in the project, explained that the students working on “May Move Out” have to be educated by Goodwill before they can begin telling other students what can and cannot be recycled. A portion of the grant will be used as a stipend for Goodwill employees who help in the education process.
Smith said even though OWU won’t be able to receive a $10,000 grant annually, she hopes the program will still continue. Smith said that the university’s president, Rock Jones, has committed to funding PODS for May 2016 move out as well.