As a campus that prides itself on sustainability efforts, I would like to believe that most UC Berkeley students are trying to move out as safely and sustainably as possible. However, I know that with finals, commencement ceremonies and quick turnarounds for residential halls and Greek house leases, this can be extremely difficult to do without the proper resources.
Despite my passion for sustainability, last year, I did not start packing up my room until about seven hours before my flight back home, which led me to throw away plenty of perfectly nice belongings just because I could not figure out how to properly store them or find a new home for them. That is why I am leading this year’s Cooperative Reuse program, alongside Tatum Hurley and other campus leaders, to help students move out in a safe and sustainable way.
In its fifth year, Cooperative Reuse is a student-run recycling program that aims to divert reusable furniture and household items from landfill while offering the items free to students and community members. Not only does this circular program promote sustainability within the UC Berkeley community, but it also can prevent renters from incurring costly fines from the city for illegally dumping furniture on the streets. Last year, Cooperative Reuse collected over 180,000 pounds of furniture and recycled over 800 mattresses.
While some students may be inclined to donate these items to unhoused people, unsolicited donations of furniture, clothing, food and other materials at encampments can create unsafe conditions that are perfect burrows and breeding grounds for rats.
Instead, Cooperative Reuse is the perfect place to bring these items, where they will be safely repurposed back into the community through community partnerships such as Goodwill, the Basic Needs Center and other local organizations.
The best way to have a safe and sustainable move-out experience is to plan ahead. If you are a procrastinator like me and do not know where to begin, consider taking advantage of these various resources to find ways to get rid of unwanted items during your last few days in Berkeley.
If you’re a student moving out of your residence this semester, take part in Cooperative Reuse! Drop off reusable furniture at the Southwest Parking Lot of Clark Kerr from May 19 to May 30 from 10 a.m. — 5 p.m. You can request a free pickup for any items through our pickup request form in which curbside assistance will be provided by Chipman Relocation and Logistics. We accept furniture items ranging from mattresses, desks, chairs, couches, electronics and other bulky household items. Since everything will return to the community, we will only accept items in good, reusable condition.
If you are moving into a new residence and looking for furniture, you can come by to pick up any household items to use for the upcoming year — for free! Pickup will be open to everyone in the community and is not limited to only UC Berkeley students. All furniture offered will be in usable condition and ready for a new home!
If you are a student moving out of the residence halls, you can participate in donating to your hall’s donation bins, which accept gently used clothing, shoes, accessories and unopened non-perishable foods until May 14. For more information regarding moving out of campus housing, one can check out the Berkeley Housing website.
If you currently reside in a Co-op or Greek housing, we strongly encourage internal reuse through clothing, book and small furniture swaps to minimize waste. Consider starting a Slack channel or Facebook page to promote items that you may be giving away or reselling. However, if there are additional furniture and household items, feel free to participate in Cooperative Reuse.
During move-out, it is imperative that we sort our waste correctly. If you’re unsure about what bin to sort your waste items into, check out the Ecology Center’s interactive sorting guide. If there is larger waste that doesn’t fit into your respective bins, you can take them to the City of Berkeley’s Transfer Station or purchase refuse bags and plant debris bags from there. If you live in off-campus housing and feel there needs to be an increase in garbage or recycling collection, contact your landlord or property manager.
The Cooperative Reuse program could not have been organized without collaboration efforts across UC Berkeley’s campus as well as the City of Berkeley and community members. Along with other student leads, Tatum and I have worked with Jen Loy, the Chancellor’s Office’s associate director of government and community relations, to develop this program and form partnerships with the following groups: Berkeley Property Owners Association, UC Berkeley’s LEAD Center, Berkeley Student Cooperative, the city of Berkeley, the ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President (EAVP), the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council, the Student Environmental Resource Center (SERC), Chipman Relocation and Logistics and Goodwill.
The importance of environmentalism throughout the move-out period cannot be overstated, as this is a primary time frame to capitalize on recycling. We at Cooperate Reuse hope that these resources will be used, as they are simple ways to continue lessening our collective ecological footprint throughout the Berkeley community.