Rather than throwing out unneeded items and clothing at the end of the school year, many students take advantage of Green Move Out pods, which serve as sustainable alternatives to waste disposal. The pods are open for students to both take and drop off goods, creating a sharing economy in which many parties can benefit.
These pods play a major role in Andover’s Green Move Out program — a program with the ultimate goal of reducing waste.
Allison Guerette, Andover’s Campus Sustainability Coordinator, wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “The Green Move Out reduces Phillips Academy’s waste stream. Donating items that have not yet reached the end of their useful life diverts waste from landfills and waste-to-energy facilities, both of which emit greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.”
During Green Move Out, a shipping container is placed in each cluster with three separate bins: books, hard goods, and soft goods. Hard goods include items such as small furniture, fans, and lights. Soft goods include clothing, bedding, and towels. Although the program has been through several different iterations, its main goal has always been to reduce waste.
After students have had the opportunity to donate or take available items in the pods, the remaining material is donated to Goodwill’s LifeWorks Community Support Services Program, a program that provides community support services to disabled individuals. According to Guerette, 7.8 tons of material were donated to this program in 2017.
“This is a more green alternative to recycling because you’re actually able to give it back to the community and have those clothes donated to a certain cause… I also think that as far as making our earth a better planet and using all of our natural resources and reusing the ones that we already have and not being a wasteful, narcissistic society that we’ve evolved into [is important]… making sure that we’re using resources to the fullest of their ability,” said Daniel James ’18.
Students appreciate that the Green Move Out pods offer the opportunity to pass on unneeded accessories as well as to acquire room decorations and clothes for the next year without having to buy new items. Reusing school supplies and clothes reduces the demand for new products every year. The lowered demand of supplies also reduces the market for new products, as companies cut down on the production of excess materials and usage of natural resources.
Elena Vinton ’19 said, “I’ve definitely left a lot of my old clothes there that no longer fit but are still in good shape, and I know that a lot of my clothes are also things that I found there… I think that when something loses value to you, you tend to just throw it away without considering the fact that it will be valuable to someone else. I found a chair in the pods, and I’m sure for someone else they couldn’t bring it with them or they didn’t want it anymore, but for me and my roommate, we found it, and so we kept it, and it’s awesome.”
The Campus Sustainability Office raises awareness about the Green Move Out every year through emails, signs, and announcements, but some students feel that the student body still lacks knowledge about what the program is and how it works. As a result, not all students may be able to take advantage of the opportunities the program provides.
“When I look at the green pods and what’s in it, it definitely doesn’t reflect [all of the boarding] students… wasted material,” said James.
Some students who make use of the Green Move Out bins remain unaware that they can take things out of the pods for themselves as well. Isabella Morona ’19 thinks that greater communication and explanation of the program in dorms every year would lead to more overall awareness and more students using the pods.
“I think that house counselors and proctors should give an explanation at the end of the year about what green move out is and how it basically works because I know that I wasn’t told that you could take things out, only that you could sort of donate,” said Morona.
The amount of material that is donated every year goes to an environmental cause, but it is not the only way in which Andover students can contribute. Guerette thinks that one thing students can improve to reduce their waste over the course of the year is to remain mindful of how much they are contributing to consumerism.
Guerette said, “The Green Move Out demonstrates how much stuff we acquire over the course of a year, and it offers a chance for more thoughtful consumption in the future.”