[Re]Move & [Re]Use recycles West Campus’ unwanted furniture

Savana Dunning

To combat the mountains of furniture and home goods discarded by students moving out of their West Campus apartments, the first-ever [Re]Move & [Re]Use program set up donation locations from July 27 through Aug. 1, offering to recycle West Campus’ unwanted stuff.

[Re]Move & [Re]Use, a joint effort by the City of Austin, UT’s Office of Sustainability, Keep Austin Beautiful and the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling, established three drop-off locations at participating apartment properties around West Campus where students could unload anything from gently used furniture to unused cleaning supplies and non perishable food. Participants received a sticker for donating that could be redeemed for discounts at participating restaurants around West Campus. 

UT alumuna Maddie Morgan started [Re]Move & [Re]Use after seeing the number of recyclable home goods discarded in the wake of move-out season.

“I went to UT several years ago and when I moved out I took all my stuff with me, but I noticed a lot of good stuff out on the curb,” Morgan said. “When I came to Austin Resource Recovery, it was sort of in the back of my mind like ‘Wow, this is a lot of material. We could help divert this.’”

Now the waste diversion planner for Austin Resource Recovery (ARR), Morgan was able to start [Re]Move & [Re]Use as a pilot program. 

ARR Program Manager Natalie Betts said the program was a test solution for the City of Austin’s sustainability goals.

“The city council back in 2011 adopted a goal of reaching zero waste by 2040 and that applies not just to city facilities or single family homes, but to the entire community, so apartment dwellers, businesses, everything,” Betts said. “And we’ve defined that as reaching 90 percent diversion, so 90 percent of everything that is discarded goes somewhere other than a landfill or to incineration.”

At the three locations in West Campus, volunteers worked with representatives from eight partner organizations including Austin Creative and Goodwill Central Texas to unload and organize the donations. The program lasted six days and Morgan said they received more than 570 dropoffs.

Volunteer Cameron Spencer said he was surprised at the quality of items donated by moving students.

“A lot of the furniture that they donate is really nice, definitely something I’d be willing to use in my apartment,” computer science senior Spencer said. “Most people here are donating because they’ve graduated and are moving out, leaving West Campus and don’t have space in their new apartment or a way to transport it, so a lot of this stuff is relatively new and in good condition.”

Advertising senior Edith Salinas brought her unwanted twin-sized bed frame and desk. Salinas said the centralized locations of the [Re]Move & [Re]Use drop-off location made it easier for her to move.

“I didn’t need the furniture I dropped off anymore and I didn’t want to throw it away and have it go to waste, and I didn’t want to move it all the way out here to my new apartment if I wasn’t going to use it,” Salinas said.