As the MSU academic semesters come to an end and students move out of housing arrangements, many look for a place to discard their furniture, clothing and appliances.
Each year during the move-out season, MSU’s Surplus Store and Recycling Center team works to collect as much unwanted material from students as they can.
Operations Coordinator Chris Hewitt called the process "big labor love."
"It's is a partnership with the residence halls to try and recover as much waste as possible during move out," Hewitt said.
Hewitt added that having the surplus store on campus allows them to give back to the community. Where these materials would have normally gone straight to a landfill, he said, his team comes in to divert and collect.
The surplus store works by selling those collected materials at discounted prices. All the sales made pay the staff or fund the program.
“Our program is to service MSU (and) campus and try to divert as much waste as possible so those funds ... go back to keeping the lights on," Hewitt said. "We (make sure) that we can continue to provide the services that we do for the university."
Anything that gets disposed on campus is collected by the Surplus Store and Recycling Center team. Once it reaches the facility, they decide on how it can be repurposed. Reusable goods go to the Surplus Store, while materials classified as standard recycling, such as cardboard and metals, are sent to the Recycling Center to be sorted.
In a 48-hour period during this past semester's move-out, 500,000 pounds of materials were gathered from students and 155,000 were diverted from landfills.
Hewitt said his team worked all weekend to unload trucks of materials and triage each item by hand.
"Any electronics were kept in one spot, tested, and cleaned to make sure they work," he said. "All the carpets were unrolled and measured and checked to see if they were still of quality and worth selling.”
Student Life and Engagement Sustainability Officer Carla Iansiti said the move-out campaign begins around Easter and focuses on encouraging students to choose sustainable practices. Donation locations are set up across campus to make depositing materials easy for people.
The program, called "Pack Up, Pitch In,” has been running for 26 years as of 2023.
“It's a really big collaborative partnership to help students understand that, when they move out, they don’t have to throw these things away," Iansiti said. "It keeps students from trying to stuff a futon into a trash can."
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