Smithcycle - Giving Purpose to Discarded Move Out Items

About Smithcycle

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

This year, despite only half our students being on campus one semester, we received an astounding 15,600 lbs of donations to Smithcycle. In comparison, we collected 26,000 lbs of material in the Smithcycle launch year of 2019 when we had full student residency for a full year. There may be many reasons for this substantial increase in material including improved awareness of the Smithcycle program, deepened partnerships with key college units, and possibly increases in student consumption of belongings. Smithcycle material accounted for only 20 percent of this May’s total waste volume which largely consists of move out and year end discards.  
 
Smithcycle took its program to a new level this year by holding on to about 1.5 tons of excellent winter gear, bedding, task lamps, fans, room décor and school supplies that will be given back to students in the coming school year via the new Common Goods Resource Center. The Common Goods Resource Center, coming to the ground level of the Campus Center this August, will offer basic-needs items free of charge to any student facing temporary or chronic financial hardship, no questions asked. 
 
In addition, we donated roughly 1 ton of housewares, organizers, school supplies, clothing, shoes, personal care products, kitchen supplies and unopened food to community partners who support children in foster care, refugee resettlement, education, LGBTQ+ health, and more.  
 
Roughly 4.5 tons of clothing, shoes, bedding, decorative pillows and more went to the Salvation Army.
 
Shockingly, we received over 500 pounds of clothing hangers that needed to be returned to houses for use in student rooms. 
 
The remaining 1.5 tons of material was either thrown in the trash, given to various offices within Smith for re-use, or given to Smith student workers.  
 
While the program continues to improve and have great success by giving discarded materials new life, as a college we have a ways to go in changing our consumption practices to generate far less wasted material, like clothing, shoes, and Smith-branded items, in the first place. 

 

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 

Food: non-perishables 

Other: decorations

NO MATTRESS TOPPERS, PILLOWS, MIRRORS, OR FRIDGES 

For more details, please see this website


Contact

For questions about the program please reach out to Rachael Wein, Assistant Director of Sustainability


Program History

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.