Two University of South Dakota students in the Department of Sustainability & Environment received the Outstanding New Program Award at the virtual Students for Zero Waste Conference that took place Nov. 5-7.
Caitlin Reimers, a senior and Zero Waste intern, and Anna Moore, a graduate student and recycling coordinator, both received the award for their work building a successful move-out program at USD and partnering with multiple local nonprofits.
“Hundreds of USD students are required to move out of their residence halls at the end of the school year, and there are often many items that they can’t or don’t want to take with them,” said Reimers. “If they are not provided with an alternative way to keep these items in use, perfectly good items end up in dumpsters bound for the landfill.”
As students moved out of the residence halls, Reimers, Moore and dozens of volunteers staffed four donation stations to allow students to donate their gently used items rather than throwing them in the dumpster.
“It’s been exciting to see USD embrace this program that is good for our community and good for the planet,” said Moore.
By the end of move-out week, the group collected more than 4,400 pounds of material, including more than 500 items of clothing, 20 crates of food, 70 rugs, 50 mirrors and 25 mattress pads. The items were donated to the Vermillion Food Pantry, Transformation Project in Sioux Falls, Pathway Shelter for the Homeless in Yankton and the Civic Council in Vermillion.
“This program taught me that sustainability needs all different aspects of a community to work together for it to be strong and awarding,” said Reimers.