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Think Outside the Dumpster

Samantha Mathewson

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The University of New Haven Green Team has found a cleaner way for students to dispose of their “trash” on move-out day through a student-led waste reduction program called Think Outside the Dumpster.

Photographed are some of the many items that were collected, which would have otherwise been thrown out.

Photographed are some of the many items that were collected, which would have otherwise been thrown out.

Think Outside the Dumpster began in 2014 and the UNH Green Team plans to hold it again this year, during move-out May 10 through the 17. The items collected during this time will then be recycled, donated or re-sold during their campus living sale August 20-23, for students to purchase items they need during move-in.

“We made just over $3,700 at the sale in 2014 (first year) and that money goes toward sustaining the program. So it pays for our volunteer t-shirts, the tent we use during the sale, the movers we use to transport our inventory from storage to the sale, and all the little things such as advertising, banners, cleaning supplies, gifts for our volunteers, etc.,” said UNH Green Team President, Christiane Cerillo. “We hope in future years we will earn even more and be able to start other sustainability projects on campus with our profits.”

Items that are collected during move-out include reusable items such as clothing, dorm furniture, or books that students don’t want anymore and would otherwise throw away.

“We hope to reduce the amount of items that are disposed of at UNH each year while providing students easy and affordable access to commonly sought-after dorm room items,” said UNH Green Team.

Items that can be donated include: electronics (Including broken items), clothing/ shoes, plastic drawers, shelves, organizers, etc., shower caddies and toiletry items, laundry detergent, school supplies, cleaning supplies, posters and decorations, area rugs, non-perishable food, lamps, kitchen supplies and dishware, mirrors, furniture, books, fans, and much more!

“Our student leaders have worked hard with the help of the Department of Facilities, Res. Life, and PLAN (Post-Landfill Action Network) to make donating unwanted, gently-used items just as easy as it would be to throw them away,” said Cerillo. “In this way we are making it simple for students to help the campus become more sustainable while also promoting the health of the environment. This is huge for the reputation of the university in the surrounding community and on a broader scale. My hope is that students will see this program and become more involved with making the University of New Haven a leader in sustainability and perhaps start programs of their own.”

Last year, about 5,900 pounds of recyclable, reusable, or donate-able materials were diverted from UNH dumpsters, along with 305 pounds of food, which was donated to the CT Food Bank to provide about 250 meals for those in need in West Haven. Unsold housewares, clothes, and blankets were also donated to the West Haven Homeless Veterans program

According to a study done by a former UNH graduate student, Think Outside the Dumpster reduced UNH’s waste related greenhouse gas emissions by about 5%, which is comparable to removing the emissions associated with the use of almost 13 cars for one year.

Clothing sold during UNH Green Team’s Campus Living Sale in August 2014  (Photo provided by UNH Green Team)

Clothing sold during UNH Green Team’s Campus Living Sale in August 2014
(Photo provided by UNH Green Team)

“But this was not the only impact of the program,” said Cerillo. “The great thing about TOD is that it’s good for the environment and the student body. Judging by the total income we made and the price reduction of inventory to about one-fifth the retail price, we saved students about $18,800 on school supplies, furniture, books, room accessories, and tons of other great items.

Students can volunteer for Think Outside the Dumpster and come with Incentives, including prizes, Honor’s Program Co-Curricular Event credit, and being allowed to move in early this fall to help with the sale if they volunteer 14 hours during Collections (about 2 hours a day).

Recognized Student Organizations can also promote themselves and table at their sale in August. To do this, each RSO needs three members to each volunteer six hours between May 13 and May 15.

This is on a first come, first serve basis and limited number of tables are available, so if you are interested, contact UNH Green Team at

Think Outside the Dumpster reduces the waste that UNH produces and helps protect the local environment and community.

“This year now that a lot more students know about us we are hoping that we get an even better turn out,” said Cerillo. “We have been working with Residential Life to reach out to RA’s and incoming freshman as well as USGA to recruit volunteers and to let clubs know about the event.”

More information regarding Think Outside the Dumpster can be found at or

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Think Outside the Dumpster