UCLA - University of California - Los Angeles

06/21/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/21/2024 16:41

UCLA’s first Sustainable Move Out helps Bruins reduce their environmental footprint

Alison Hewitt
June 21, 2024
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At schools around the country, apartments and dorms empty out for summer, but the belongings that can't fit in the suitcase often get left behind - and end up in landfills.

That's why UCLA teamed up with more than a dozen partners this year to create the Sustainable Move Out, with groups like the UCLA Thrift Shop accepting furniture, the Bruin Bazaar creating a secondhand clothing marketplace to keep old duds out of the dumpster, and the city of Los Angeles bringing extra sanitation trucks through for the unsalvageable leftovers.

The Saturday before and after graduation have been dedicated by the university to the Sustainable Move Out, with related events sprinkled across the two weeks. Tomorrow's move-out includes five drop-off locations in North Westwood Village for bulky items, as well as donations to a variety of community thrift stores. Unwanted towels and blankets will be repurposed for Los Angeles Animal Services' pets to snuggle on.

"UCLA is walking the walk when it comes to sustainability," said Duane Muller, senior executive director of UCLA Government and Community Relations, who helped recruit partners and organize the event. "We know our students want to reduce their environmental footprint, but sometimes that takes resources they don't have, like a vehicle to donate to a thrift store or to transport bulky furniture. With the Sustainable Move Out, UCLA and its partners are providing that missing link."

With secondhand couches, scratched coffee tables and mini fridges commonly relegated to the curb in university towns across the country this time of year, sanitation departments are usually left to pick up the slack.

Sustainable Move Out creates a better option, said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky, a UCLA alumna. Her office supported the eco-minded move-out weekends by bringing in the city's sanitation department and bulky item pickup, posting no-parking signs and bringing in high school helpers from the LA Conservation Corps.

"By participating in this initiative, students are playing a crucial role in significantly reducing waste and ensuring that unwanted bulky items don't end up cluttering our streets," Yaroslavsky said. "I'm excited to continue this partnership with UCLA, LA Sanitation and local nonprofits as we showcase our collective commitment to sustainability and keeping our communities clean."

It's a big bang for a modest investment of five trucks and drivers for two weekends, said Barbara Romero, general manager of LA Sanitation and another UCLA alumna.

"(LA Sanitation) is grateful for the partnership with UCLA and Councilmember Yaroslavsky to help alleviate unnecessary landfill waste by redistributing useful items that would otherwise have been discarded, but still have much useful life," Romero said.

Instead of moldering in landfills, mini fridges will be stored on campus over the summer and redistributed in the fall. Piles of clothes were collected and donated along with heaps of housewares and furniture. Three tons of trash were scooped up by the city and Athens immediately. And UCLA Sustainability and Bruin Bazaar are storing items for a fall student move-in event.

In what organizers hope will be an annual tradition, Sustainable Move Out was a feat of coordination.

"We're learning some lessons for next year," Muller said. "We have ideas for attracting more campus partners, including other L.A. nonprofits. And next year, we'll consider some alternative off-campus sites and potentially different dates to accommodate students' schedules. For instance, we likely won't start at 10 a.m. Most students were still sleeping!"

UCLA Government and Community Relations coordinated with sororities and fraternities, looped in Athens Services and the North Westwood Neighborhood Council, and worked with on- and off-campus partners to contact local property owners and apartment managers to alert students living in nonuniversity housing.

The first Saturday of the Sustainable Move Out attracted students from on and off campus.

"The donation drives were so popular that organizers received requests to expand the program next year," said Brianna Moncada, the sustainability manager for UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services. "Students and parents really appreciated the convenient drop-off location for donating unwanted items."

The project includes two nonprofit organization (St. Joseph's Center and UCLA Thrift Shop) and dozens of Bruin volunteers coordinated by the UCLA Volunteer Center to help collect, sort and transport donations. UCLA Sustainability from campus Facilities Management recommended ways to reuse secondhand items, and brought in student organizations focused on environmentalism and waste reduction, and more.

Additional UCLA partners lending a hand include Housing, Residential Life, Staff Assembly, Undergraduate Student Association, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and the Facilities Commission.