Sophia Jain gently sifts through several boxes of used clothing at the UW-Madison’s Lot 45 station on North Mills Street. Although it’s only been open for three days, the station is already well stocked with everything from hookahs, to fur coats and weaves, to grills, couches and large televisions.
“I’m starting a job soon so I need business-casual clothes,” Jain says. “I’m really just like any other broke college student trying to save money.”
Jain was not disappointed. In addition to a pair of Michael Kors gloves, fall sweaters and a bag of other clothes, she scored some dishes.
The Donate and Take station is run by the UW Office of Sustainability and WE CONSERVE and was open from Aug. 12 to 17 as a way of diverting still usable items from the landfill during the chaotic moving days. The amount of things tossed during this week can be significant. Bryan Johnson, Madison’s recycling coordinator, says about 1.1 million pounds of move-out waste from the streets went to the landfill last year.
Students and community members both took advantage of the waystation. WE CONSERVE collected 1,428 working and nonworking electronic items, including TVs, printers, motherboards and popcorn makers.
“We’ve had more than 300 TVs come in from campus and the Madison community,” says WE CONSERVE intern Kate Giguere. “If you try to recycle old TVs through the city then you have to buy a tag, but at this event you can recycle it for free, and divert waste from the landfill.”
The Office of Sustainability partnered with Madison, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Goodwill Industries and Open Seat Food Pantry to help find homes for many of the donated goods.
“There are a lot of different parts to the event, but luckily we have a lot of great partners who help make this happen,” says Anna Ostermeier of the Donate and Take station.
Goodwill coordinated with the building managers to have donation bins open to residents on the floors of several high-rise apartments. Greg Haglund, the partnership and project manager for Goodwill Industries, says they helped to divert more than 100,000 pounds of items from the landfill by making the bins available to students in apartments.
St. Vincent de Paul also provided a few donation locations staffed by its own employees, and the city of Madison was in charge of clearing up items off the streets.
For the first year, Open Seat Food Pantry accepted donations of nonperishable food and unopened toiletry or soap packages.
“It is about reducing waste from the landfill, but we do also realize there is a lot of need on this campus, so we want to provide for those students, and we want to provide for them in a way that is very dignified and de-stigmatized,” Ostermeier says. “That’s one of the reasons we’re staffing these donate and take sites so that people don’t have to dig around on the floor for items. We want anyone who visits to feel very comfortable coming to these sites.”
Working computers donated: 43
Nonworking computers: 65
Nonfunctional lightbulbs: 38
Functional lightbulbs: 0
Total electronics items donated: 1,428