Green Check Out
Green Check Out
Tips for Reducing Your Check Out Impact
This great guide to a green move out was put together by a former fellow student, Iman Ahmed.
After finals, there are usually only a couple of days to pack up and get off campus. It’s no surprise that in the mad rush to empty your dorm room at the end of the year the environmental impact of move out is forgotten.
Below are some tips for move out that will help you reduce your environmental impact and reduce move out stress in the process. For more information, visit our Facebook Group.
- Packing Materials
- Pack During Reading Week
- Clothing, Shoes and Accessories
- Next Year – Think Ahead
The easiest way to reduce waste is to store your things over the summer. When you get back to campus next year, everything you need will be right there ready for you to use. Make plans for storing things over the summer either by using a service or doing it yourself. The most convenient option to Columbia is the Manhattan Mini-Storage on 106th Street. More info on storage options can be found in Summer Storage. If you don’t have enough stuff to fill a storage unit yourself, find some friends who also need some storage space and rent a unit together.
Packing materials are often not eco-friendly and can cost a lot to buy. You can reduce the amount of packing materials you use by wrapping fragile items in clothes and using suitcases and storage containers that you brought to campus for as many of the rest of your things as possible. See if a local store like Morton Williams will let you take boxes they no longer need rather than buying new ones. You can also look on Craigslist for free packing supplies.
If you don’t want to store your things over the summer and would otherwise get rid of them out at Check Out, why not sell some stuff on Craigslist? This is an especially good option for furniture or electronics, which are easy to sell and give you the most return for the effort of posting an ad.
Get a head start on packing and reduce the frenzy of Check Out by taking breaks from studying to pack. In addition to helping you plan ahead and making sure you’re not in such a hurry when it’s time to go home, you will be less likely to be wasteful and throw things out just because you don’t have time to sort through them.
During finals week you will probably need all of your books from the current semester, but you can pack any books from the previous semester. When packing your books and papers, decide what you want to keep and what you no longer want.
Pack the books and papers you want to keep in several small boxes since they’re heavy to carry. Stack books you don’t want to keep in a pile or in boxes or bags. Most books you don’t want can be sold back to the bookstore now or, if you can hold on to them, to other CU students next year. Alternatively, you can leave these books at Give and Go Green locations.
Papers you don’t want should be put in paper bags in the paper recycling bins on your floor. Every year bags and bags of paper that could be recycled aren’t because it’s mixed with other waste.
Pick out the clothes, shoes and accessories you want for the next couple of weeks. Work backwards from the day you leave campus to what you want to wear tomorrow. Set these clothes and shoes aside. Similarly, set aside any bedding, towels, toiletries, medications, etc. that you think you’ll need for your last two weeks on campus and add to the pile.
Try to find a suitcase or two that will fit this two week supply and set that and your laundry bag aside too. As you wear the clothes you’ll start to fill up your laundry bag and ideally by your last day you’ll be able to strip the bed, throw everything into your laundry bag and throw your laundry bag into your suitcase.
Once you’ve set aside what you need for the last two weeks, everything else can be packed. Pack one suitcase at a time starting with the winter clothes you definitely no longer need. As you pack, decide if you want to keep each piece of clothing or not. Pack only the clothes and shoes you want to keep and put the rest in large bags, separating shoes from clothes. These items can be given to Give and Go Green for donation.
Don’t make any major food shopping trips during your last two weeks on campus. Look at how much food you have left and be realistic about how much you’re going to eat/cook during finals. It’s likely due to the time crunch that you won’t be preparing meals much during this time. Anything you don’t eat that is packaged and hasn’t been opened can be donated. If you have cookware that you brought to campus, make sure it’s clean and pack it if you want it for next year. Food and cookware items can be donated to Give and Go Green.
Like food purchases, shopping for the other necessities of life should be considered in terms of how long you have left in the semester. Unless you’re planning on taking it with you, don’t buy a giant economy-size shampoo three weeks before it’s time to leave campus. Also, lightly used toiletries can be donated to Give and Go Green, even if they are only half full!
Did you get a new cell phone or Mp3 player this year and still haven’t gotten rid of the old one? Have a bunch of used batteries that you aren’t sure how to dispose of? Used and broken electronics can often be donated or recycled. There’s no need to trash these items. Set aside printers, monitors, laptops, speakers, televisions, etc. that you no longer need and drop them off at Give and Go Green locations for donation, or in the Lerner Recycling Center.
Most people don’t have that much of their own furniture in their dorm rooms but some do. If you do have furniture you don’t want, consider selling it on Craigslist or to Seniors who will be staying in NYC after graduation. If you don’t want to sell your furniture or don’t have time, like most other items, furniture can be left at Give and Go Green locations for donation.
Seniors, if you’re staying in NYC, take note. It’s possible to furnish an entire NYC apartment with furniture, appliances, and electronics you pick up from people leaving during Check Out. If you’re looking for specific items, post a list of what you’re looking for and see who on campus has what you’re seeking. Between finals and commencement is a great time to search the halls for your next free coffee table or futon.
The best way to reduce the amount of stuff you have to take home next spring is to reduce the stuff you bring to campus next fall. You can also reduce the number of things you buy during the year. When you move in, consider whether a huge shopping trip to Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond or Ikea is really necessary. How long do you think you’ll use what you’re buying? Will it just get thrown out at the end of the year?
There are some green ways to outfit your dorm room next year, however. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed that Give and Go Green will have tons of great stuff on hand that you can buy for cheap next year when you get back to campus. You can also find what you’re looking for for free or for less than you’d pay in a store on Craigslist. Flea markets and thrift stores in the city also offer a cheap and often more interesting alternative too.
After all, how many people on the same floor really need to have the exact same lamp before it gets old? Why not find something quirky and unique and reduce the environmental impact of your buying decisions at the same time?