From using laundry hampers as storage bins to wrapping fragile dishes in clothing, UNC students have some creative solutions to sustainably move-in for years.
Still, Olivia Gambocarto, interim program manager for UNC's waste reduction and recycling department, said that being earth-friendly during campus move-in can be difficult given the culture surrounding consumerism.
“There’s a lot of messaging out there before you go to college that 'you need this and you need that,' you need this specialized box to carry X, Y and Z," Gambocarto said. "I don’t think you always need that."
Gambocarto said she wondered if students truly need to bring as many items to school as they do, such as items that can be shared like microwaves and fridges.
Despite Gambocarto's concerns, UNC's Waste Diversion Coordinator Kelli Maturano said she has personally seen improvements in move-in sustainability and congratulates students on their efforts.
“Based on move-out last year, we didn't see nearly as much donatable items go in the trash —which was great," Maturano said. "We want to see that people are keeping their stuff and reusing that year after year and not having to buy new things each year. That's great, and we encourage our students to keep that in mind while they're on campus."
Maturano said that the main goal this year for a sustainable move-in was making sure cardboard gets recycled rather than thrown into the trash, and minimizing the amount of waste that is brought onto campus by unpacking at home.
“If you’re thrifting a microwave that's obviously not coming with any packaging — it’s second-hand and that's the best option,” she said.
Maturano said that recently there has been a decrease in plastic film and Styrofoam waste — which are materials that are difficult to recycle — as well as an increase in student awareness.