Green Move-Out Continues to Benefit GW Students and Community

Green Move-Out cuts down on waste during student move-out while benefiting community organizations.

May 29, 2024

Student volunteers sort through donated goods for reuse during Green Move-Out.

Student volunteers sort through donated goods for reuse during Green Move-Out.

George Washington University’s Green Move-Out is back this year, partnering with a record number of community organizations and continuing a decade-long tradition of benefiting local charitable causes through the redistribution of donated goods. 

The community engagement and sustainability initiative has been a tradition at GW since 2012 when it was started to divert as much waste from student move-out as possible. 

Since May 9, student volunteers have dedicated their time to sorting through donated goods for reuse and loading them onto the trucks of community partners that will distribute the items to where they are needed most. 

During this year’s Green Move-Out, students vacating their residence halls donated a total of 41,250 pounds of goods, including 23,000 pounds of clothes and 16,000 pounds of household goods.

Colin O'Brien, a sustainability associate with the Office of Sustainability at GW, said Green Move-Out continues to be a successful and growing program.  

“We’ve added several community partners to the Green Move-Out in the last three years,” O’Brien said. “This year we have the largest number of unique community partners that are working with us to collect and distribute donations to individuals and families in our backyard and across the DMV.” 

Twelve different community partners are participating in Green Move-Out this year, including Goodwill of Greater Washington for the first time. 

O’Brien said he’s happy with the number of GW students who are donating items and volunteering their time for the Green Move-Out initiative. 

Qasim Bilal, a junior studying political science and philosophy, was one of 100 student volunteers who have been helping sort and load donated goods. 

“This is a good cause, donating items and making sure these things actually get to a place where the people who need them can get them,” Bilal said. 

He said because volunteers for Green Move-Out received an extended stay in their residence halls until May 20, it is helpful to students who need to be on campus longer while allowing them to take part in a fulfilling cause. 

Students can donate three main categories of items during Green Move-Out. Textiles, which include clothing and bedding, household goods like apartment décor and nonperishable food.  

“We get a lot of great kitchen items from some of the upperclassmen dorms, which are useful for our community partners,” O’Brien said. 

The collection of nonperishable foods usually yields around 2,000 pounds of food that is then donated to The Store or Bread for the City. 

Another way the Office of Sustainability aims to reduce waste from student move-out is through the Reuse Market, which operates during move-in week. The 2024 Reuse Market will take place on Aug. 19. 

Launched in 2023, the successful program redistributes donations collected during move-out week and makes dormitory items like lamps and rugs available to students moving-in at no cost. The open-air market takes place at University Yard. 

“We see many  students leaving behind most of their belongings  at the end of the year, coming back to campus, and buying a whole set of brand-new items at the beginning of the year. Part of our solution to that is the Reuse Market,” O’Brien said. 

In 2023, the Office of Sustainability received a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment to hold the market. They’ve received a grant this year and have a goal of doubling the amount of inventory they have to offer so more students can benefit from the Reuse Market. 

“Last year, we had around 700 students  come out to try to get free items for their dorm,” O’Brien said. “So we're expanding our inventory this year to make sure more people can go home with great, useful items to outfit their dorms at no cost. It's a great sustainability and equity impact program for our campus.”