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From Trash to Treasure

This May, Project Move Out collected 500 pounds of food and about five tons of clothing from AU students.

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From left, zero waste manager Caroline Boone and Luke Carignan, CAS/BS ’25, BA ’25, stand next to one of the Project Move Out pods. Photo by Jeff Watts.

If you can name it, odds are it was there.

Converse sneakers, Crocs, cleats, and uncooked ramen. Jeans, t-shirts, mini fridges, rugs, and a TV. An unopened bottle of Goya adobo seasoning, a macroeconomics textbook, laundry baskets. A Hydro Flask water bottle and a black velvet hooded cape.

The pile of gently used items even included a hand-painted canvas of Megamind, the blue cartoon supervillain from the 2010 DreamWorks film of the same name. The painting was a highlight of Project Move Out for zero waste manager Caroline Boone.

“It’s just perfect,” Boone said. “No notes.”

Led by AU’s Office of Sustainability, Project Move Out ensured unwanted treasures—ranging from common to just plain odd—can enjoy an extended life.

From May 3–12, Project Move Out placed four 9-by-8-foot metal pods across campus to collect items AU students no longer needed. Eagles donated 500 pounds of food, about five tons of clothing, and a hodge podge of hundreds of other gently used dorm room items. Outside of bedding, underwear, and personal hygiene items, almost anything was welcome.

“It’s an incredible program that makes a huge difference,” Boone said. “Really the only thing that we need more of moving forward is a cultural change. Part of the reason this is such an important program is that there’s just so much stuff.”

Project Move Out, which has been held since at least 2013, is supports AU’s Zero Waste Policy and campuswide efforts to reduce clutter. The amount of waste generated on college campuses across the country spikes when students leave for the summer and thousands of tons of reusable items end up in the garbage.

Efforts at AU ensure those belongings have a chance at a second life.

“It’s definitely evident how much stuff gets put in these pods and not in the dumpsters,” said Luke Carignan, CAS/BS ’25, BA ’25, president of AU’s Zero Waste Club, who helped sort and organize donations. “It’s so much waste that we’re able to avoid sending to landfills, which is very important.”

Nonperishable items were given to the Market, AU’s free food pantry for students, and clothes were picked up and sorted by Goods Recycling, a nonprofit that distributes the them to local thrift stores and shelters.

The rest of the items will be stored over the summer and then unpacked one pod at a time on the quad in the fall. As part of a companion program, Project Move In, students will be able to peruse items and furnish their dorm rooms for free.

“It’ll look a little bit different this year,” sustainability manager Anna Parse Johnson said. “Last year, it was one day during Welcome Week. This year, what we’d like to do is allow everyone access to it that first week of class.”

During that (literal) free-for-all, no matter what Eagles are looking for—whether one-of-a-kind anti-hero art or a laundry basket—odds are you can find it there.