Move-Out Made More Orderly

July 8, 2013

Student Eco-Reps in Harnwell College House rose above the piles of papers, odd shoes, unopened boxes of pasta, and unwanted desk lamps to organize a reuse/recycle program during Move-Out. Hannah Min and Katie Herzog, both graduating seniors and RAs in Harnwell, saw “the massive mess that is generated at Move-Out” as their opportunity to complete their Spring term Eco-Rep project. “The problem, for us as Eco-Reps, was not the volume of the waste that's put into the halls, but rather the percentage of the waste that is recyclable or reusable in some capacity -- that would be going to go into the landfill without our project,” explained Ms. Min.

The Harnwell Eco-Reps tried to make it easy for students moving out to sort their things for reuse or recycling, instead of throwing them in the trash. As Ms. Herzog explained it, “We had placed 24 35-gallon Rubbermaid bins in the building – one on each residential floor. We divided the PennMOVES donation list into three main categories, so each floor was designated as a drop-off for one of three categories. If a resident wanted to donate something that wasn't designated to his or her own floor, all they had to do was go up or down one flight of stairs.” All the small donated items were then were collected into larger bins and delivered to the PennMOVES truck in Hamilton Village.

The Harnwell Eco-Reps found great success in collecting donated items that would have otherwise been trashed, based on feedback from the house dean, Suhn Ahn, PennMOVES coordinators, and other students. “The amount of donations we received definitely surpassed our expectations,” said Ms. Min. “I think that because the donation drop areas were closer to the residents (literally outside their door), they were less inclined to throw things away and more inclined to donate what they could.” As graduating seniors, both Ms. Min and Ms. Herzog hoped this move-out project would become a lasting practice, but they realized it will take dedication from future Eco-Reps to make it work in Harnwell and other college houses.


2013 marks the fifth year in a row that Penn has received the Tree Campus USA® designation, awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation.

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