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Campus Move-Out Drive Collects 14,000 Pounds of Items

August 5, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University students donated 14,000 pounds of items to the University's annual move-out collection drive in June.

Though the drive has been held annually for the past 14 years, this was the first year donated items were weighed.

The donated items are being redistributed to thrift shops and to people in need in the Evanston community. "To reroute 14,000 pounds of food and clothing from the waste stream to those in need is very satisfying," said Julie Cahillane manager of Recycling and Refuse at Northwestern. Every day throughout the drive Cahillane and her intern emptied the collection bins and brought items to a central storage area.

Making sure there were plenty of easily accessible collection bins was an important factor in the success of the move-out drive. During this year's peak move-out time, which lasted from June 6-17, all the dorms on campus, as well as the lobby of the Norris Aquatic Center, were equipped with small bins for nonperishable foods and large bins for clothes.

"The biggest challenge is with clothing," Cahillane explained. "We can't handle the processing." This drive alone, 13,000 pounds of clothes were collected. For help Cahillane and Northwestern's Facilities Management turned to Fundraise and Recycle Clothes Now, a company that works with universities and other organizations to collect and recycle clothes. The company also operates Unique Thrift Stores, a chain of resale stores with locations throughout the Chicago area.

Scott Okun, manager of Fundraise and Recycle Clothes Now, helped by supplying trucking and pick-up services for the University. He's also kept a close eye on the distribution and resale of clothes at Unique Thrift Stores. The bulk of clothing collected during the move-out drive was dropped off at two Unique Thrift Stores locations -- 4445 Sheridan Road, between Northwestern's Chicago and Evanston campuses, and 7530 N. Western Ave., just south of Evanston.

The great deals and the importance of reusing and recycling are big draws for thrift store customers. "Though our customers are diverse," Okun explained, "they all have one thing in common. They are looking for a great bargain." Clothes that aren't sellable may be sent to people in developing countries or to places that recycle the materials into polishing cloths and other textile products.

In addition to clothes, 822 pounds of food were collected during the drive. Food items were put to use by Northwestern's Campus Kitchens Project, an organization dedicated to helping the Evanston community fight hunger. "Many of the donations have been used for our summer program called Feeding Our Future," said Joanna Racho, coordinator of Campus Kitchens at Northwestern.

"Feeding our Future provides about 2,000–2,500 bag lunches a week to children in non-profit agencies in Evanston, such as the Salvation Army and the Youth Outreach Umbrella," Racho explained. Many snack items such as granola bars that were collected during the move-out drive have been used for bag lunches.

Environmental sustainability and recycling are serious commitments at Northwestern and for Evanston. "The annual campus move-out program provides a great and needed service for students as they leave campus and realize they have many items that they no longer need," Cahillane added.

Northwestern's Facilities Management expressed its thanks to Midwest Movers and Bill Owens who donated boxes for the collection.