Quit dumpster diving during move out, get some free furniture next weekend at new market

Claire Stevens, News Reporter

The end of July is a time when many students regularly move out of West Campus, leaving their furniture and appliances behind for the landfill or for someone else to pick up. But now, students and residents can stop dumpster diving and get free furniture next weekend at the first-of-its-kind market put on by UT and the city. 

“You know, living in Austin is not cheap,” said Paige Muehlenkamp, assistant director for off-campus and outreach for UT’s New Student Services. “So being able to get some free furniture is a big deal.” 

The Free Furniture Market is a new initiative for the MoveOutATX program, a collaboration between Austin Resource Recovery, UT’s Office of Sustainability and UT’s New Student Services Off-Campus Initiative. MoveOutATX is an annual event where donations are collected at drop-off locations in West Campus and given to various reuse organizations, such as Goodwill Central Texas and Austin Creative Reuse, during “move-out season.”

The Free Furniture Market will run from July 28 to 31 from 2:30-7 p.m. at the Wright-Whitaker Sports Complex, commonly known as UT’s intramural fields. Donations will be accepted at 6 locations in West Campus, which can be found here, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the same days.

“We have these local reuse organizations who we partner with, so it provides an economic development opportunity for them through the donated items,” said Matt Hart, a public information specialist for Austin Resource Recovery. “It also decreases cleanup costs for property managers and landlords.”

Brianna Duran, the staff engagement and Climate Leaders Program coordinator at UT’s Office of Sustainability, said furniture donations can be difficult to collect because of the challenges with moving and storing them. 

“We decided to pilot this free furniture market as a new way to try to rehome all of this good furniture that’s accessible, convenient for folks, getting it back into the community and out of the dumpsters,” Duran said.

In the program’s three years, it has diverted an estimated 160 tons of material from the landfill, Hart said. Typically hundreds of people participate in the program, Duran said.

The organization is also looking for volunteers to collect donations and work the market, Duran said. Students can sign up to volunteer on the MoveOutATX website.

“It definitely is a big community effort,” Duran said. “It’s always great to have students who are not moving to get in there and help us make this happen.”