Smithcycle - Giving Purpose to Discarded Move Out Items
Each year when Smith students move out, many struggle to fit all their things into storage bins, suitcases and car trunks. To reduce the amount of end-of-year waste and to give viable goods a new life at Smith or with our community, a sustainable move out program was implemented in 2019.
During move-out, student workers collect items left in several donation locations across campus. The materials are then sorted into categories by student workers and donated to Smith departments who support students as well as local community groups.
Smithcycle 2021 Results
Accepted items include:
Clothes & Linens: Blankets, sheets, towels, clothes, winter coats, boots
Books: fiction/non-fiction and textbooks
School Supplies: art supplies, pens, pencil, organizers, binders, notebooks, folders
Hard Plastics: Laundry hampers, shower caddies, bed risers
Kitchen: plates, mugs, utensils, pots, pans, assorted appliances, reusable bags, kettles
Appliances & Electronics: fans, tools, extension cords, power strips, chargers, headphones
Furniture: chairs, shelving, storage bins, luggage, plastic storage
Toiletries & Cleaning Supplies: Opened: lotion, shampoo, cleaning supplies, and menstrual products. Unopened: bar soap, toothpaste, deodorant, cosmetics
NO MATTRESS TOPPERS, PILLOWS, MIRRORS, OR FRIDGES
For more details, please see this website.
For questions about the program please reach out to Rachael Wein, Assistant Director of Sustainability
After seeing move out waste firsthand as a Reunion student worker, Emmy Longnecker ’20J, a chemistry major and environmental science and policy minor, was determined to solve it. Longnecker worked with staff and faculty in CEEDS to create a two-semester special studies to understand the problem and develop a solution. Longnecker spent the first semester understanding waste on campus—how it is collected, who transports it and where it ends up. She met with building services staff in Facilities Management to hear about their work and the challenges and limitations they see. She also talked with students about their move-out needs. Next, Longnecker worked to figure out how collecting and sorting items could fit into the busy spring schedule, and she then looked for groups of people on campus already available to help.
In the second semester, Longnecker focused on making connections. She found homes for reuse for a wide range of items. She also connected with Student Affairs and the Office of Alumnae Relations and Development. And voilà, Smithcycle was born. It is Smith’s first student-designed, comprehensive move-out waste reduction program.
Through Smithcycle student can donate clothing, shoes, bedding, food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, electronics, lamps, storage bins, luggage, school supplies and more by placing their items in large marked bins in houses around campus. In 2019, bins were located in Comstock, Emerson, Wilson, Scales, Cutter, Chase and Lawrence houses, as well as the Freidman Apartments. Donated items were picked up by several local partners, including the Salvation Army, Northampton Survival Center and Northampton ReCenter. Other items were stored on campus over the summer and made accessible to students arriving on campus early in the fall.
When Trash for Treats started several years ago, staff were able to estimate the weight of the clothing donated and found that between eight and twelve tons of clothing is collected each year. Conservatively, this totals 16,000 pounds. It will be more difficult to estimate the weight of the varied items saved from the landfill by Smithcycle, but through this program students have the potential to drastically reduce end-of-year waste.
For her work on this issue, Longnecker was awarded the Student Leadership Award in Environmental Sustainability in April 2019. After graduation in January 2020, Longnecker accepted a Post-Bac position with CEEDS and Student Affairs to implement the program again for the 2019/2020 school year.