Columbus gets creative with clutter recycling program

Anyone who has ever lived in a college town knows that the end of the school year is a trash scavenger’s dream. When students move out of their dorms and apartments, they put on the curb and in large dumpsters anything they don’t wish to take with them to the next chapter of their lives. Anything that isn’t looted, is piled into trash trucks and taken to the city dump.

A lot of these trashed items are in good working order and could be used by someone else. However, after partying it up in celebration of the end of finals, the last thing anyone wants to do is find good homes for their unwanted things.

The Ohio State University has a program that not only helps students responsibly get rid of their clutter at the end of the semester, but it is also available for residents of the Columbus area to use. The program is called “Dump and Run” and The Columbus Dispatch says that the donated items are evaluated, priced, and then sold at the beginning of the semester in a huge yard sale.

For the past six years, dump volunteers have collected hand-me-downs and sold them at thrifty prices to students and bargain-hungry adults in the greater Columbus area. “It’s a great way to reduce waste in landfills, and it has a lot of appeal for students and Columbus residents,” said Podrasky, a junior majoring in environmental policy and management.

Sue Kelly, 54, and husband, Scott Dagenfield, 56, donated her late father’s wooden office desk to make room for a new recliner in her mother’s home.

Nearly 30 years old, the desk is in mint condition.

To encourage students to donate, dump organizers placed bins in each of the college’s residence halls May14. That collection runs until Friday.

Last year, students collected nearly 7 tons of items, said Rachel Gapa, program co-chairwoman.

Thanks to reader Mary for letting us know about this program. Hopefully spreading the word about it will help other college towns learn about this terrific clutter-recycling program.

21 Comments for “Columbus gets creative with clutter recycling program”

  1. posted by Karen on

    Virginia Tech and the YMCA do a similar program called “Ytoss?” The Y collects unwanted items and then re-sells them through its thrift store.

  2. posted by Angie Malloy on

    Yep, many colleges do this. Last year’s annual UC Davis Resource Recovery Drive collected 7,137 pounds of materials during campus resident move-out in June. Of the total, 1,893 pounds of food items were donated to the local food bank and 5,244 pounds of clothes, small appliances, linens and other items were donated to a nearby Goodwill store. Additionally, personal care, laundry and cleaning products were donated to the local homeless shelter.

  3. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Angie — The food donation component is amazing! Such a great idea.

  4. posted by Lose That Girl on

    Businesses should do this too when they’re upgrading to new equipment, furniture and the like. Great idea.

  5. posted by Michele on

    We call it “Penn Christmas” here in Philadelphia.

    I believe the University of Pennsylvania — an Ivy League school with a lot of students who are, shall we say, children of privilege — has also been doing this kind of rummage sale thing in the past few years.

  6. posted by Michele on

    Ah, here it is: PennMOVES.

  7. posted by Jen on

    @Michele – I went to Penn but I don’t remember this program, it must be relatively new (i graduated more than 10 yrs ago). It’s great that they do this now though because you are right – there are a bunch of rich kids that go there and probably just throw stuff away. I remember furnishing my off-campus house with stuff I bought off of the various list-servs from graduating seniors, etc – like a 1 year old bed for $50, a TV for $75, you name it. I was lucky to have a roommate a year younger when I graduated and I left most of my furniture for her so there was very little waste on my part (or maybe she was the lucky one)!

  8. posted by Rachel on

    As a UK student just preparing to move out of my own halls of residence, I can confirm that our unis over here are definitely in on this too! We have a massive bin up by our rubbish collection that we can chuck stuff in, and it all goes to local charities. Apparently they collected over 5 tonnes of stuff last year according to the poster on my fridge! I’ve already thrown quite a few bits in that otherwise would have to be binned, so its great that they’re encouraging it.

    @Angie, the food donation concept is a VERY good idea also, lots of us have unwanted perishables, and the last people in a flat to leave are going to have to bin those, what a waste 🙁

  9. posted by GMT Billings on

    This is brilliant. I’m going to suggest this to my tiny alma mater and the large local state college.

  10. posted by Jenn on

    I work in Student Affairs and many, many colleges and universities have programs like this – and have for many years, actually! The places that don’t usually simply lack manpower.

  11. posted by penguinlady on

    I’m so glad to see programs like this cropping up! I remember being boggled by the waste in the dorm trash rooms at the end of the year. We actually collected several perfectly-good TVs for the retirement home my mother worked for, to give the old folks a little happiness (and I think one or two ended up in our house, as well!). One year, I had accumulated just a little too much myself and was grateful to find an empty suitcase in there, too. We need more old-fashioned rummage sales like this!

  12. posted by Nicole on

    Habitat for Humanity parked a truck outside the freshman quad to collect furniture donations at my school. Unfortunately, some of the students were still too lazy to walk the extra 20 feet, so my friends and I occasionally went dumpster-diving and loaded the finds on the truck.

  13. posted by Isaac on

    You can also unclutter your world by listing things for sale online on
    It’s totally free – no commissions or fees whatsoever, you get to keep all the money.
    It’s just like a regular garage sale but runs forever, and saves you from running your own garage sale and from wasting weekends.

  14. posted by kissaguard on

    My university did this, too–I just graduated. We had a great local charity taking household stuff, and Habitat for Humanity took large items (fridges, carpeting, etc). The food component is a great idea! We gave ours to friends staying for summer classes, but it would otherwise have been thrown out. I still had to toss a perfectly good mattress set . . . no one takes those.

  15. posted by Melissa on

    We tried instituting this at my small state school in 2002. The founder was a family friend of a professor. Unfortunately it didn’t take off. Our school wasn’t suited to this as so many lived off campus.

    However my sister spent time gathering and cleaning items collected at Babson College last summer. Great idea for a lot of schools!

  16. posted by Katie on


    Small correction…Ohio State is on quarters not semesters currently…they will soon be moving to semesters though.

  17. posted by Candice on

    Go Columbus! ♥

    Too bad the rest of Central Ohio doesn’t get it… oh well. We’re getting there, I guess.

  18. posted by Lisa Heller Boragine on

    When I founded Dump & Run as a nonprofit ten years ago, very few schools were doing this thing. I am very pleased to see that the concept has taken off. We have helped many schools get started in this area, but whether or not a program is affiliated with our nonprofit, it is a growing trend for colleges to be aware and conscious of their waste stream.

  19. posted by on

    Great idea. When my son left IU in Bloomington a few years back i was appalled to see all the perfectly good items tossed to the curb like trash. It is just amazing what a truly ‘throw away society’ we have become.

  20. posted by KJ on

    The University of Alaska Fairbanks has a Really Free Market, where they take all the stuff left in student dorms at the end of the year and set it up in a big parking lot. Additionally members of the community are invited to bring things in as well. Then people can go through and take what they want for free. Anything left over is donated or recycled appropriately.

  21. posted by recycling containers person on

    As a DIY enthusiast, I thoroughly enjoy the end of college season. I’ve gotten many usable pieces of furniture and even electronics by hanging around in Boston. On one end it saddens me to see so much go to waste, but on the other I have personally benefited from it.

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