Spring Move Out cuts waste, encourages reuse and recycling

Event for students helps keep Menomonie clean, supports Habitat for Humanity
UW-Stout student Kelsea Goettl recycles a toaster and metal bucket during the Spring Move Out for students.
May 15, 2019

Thirty-seven electronic devices and appliances and 20 bed and futon frames stayed out of Dunn County landfills thanks to the University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Spring Move Out for students.

The event, during final exams the first week of May, was held this year with the Dunn County Solid Waste Department to make sure televisions, computers, other electronics and scrap metal didn’t end up in landfills but instead will be recycled.

Items in good condition went to Habitat for Humanity in Eau Claire, including 17 couches and futons. The organization sells them to help build homes for families in need.

A total of 90 items were collected, including housewares, furniture, appliances and electronics. Clothing and nonperishable food also could be donated.

Students were able to properly dispose of televisions for recycling during the move out. The move out prevents items from being left on streets or by dumpsters and items in good condition were donated to support Habitat for Humanity in Eau Claire.

“A lot of what we did was recycling and reusing,” said UW-Stout Sustainability Manager Sarah Rykal. “We wanted to divert things from the landfill. Our numbers show we definitely had greater participation this year. For example, last year we recycled one TV and 10 this year. Last year we took in 41 couches and futons, and this year we took in 75.”

Items not suitable for donation were properly disposed of to prevent them from being left on boulevards or outside rental homes or apartments.

Volunteers came from the UW-Stout chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the Student Athlete Advisory Council and Sustainability Steering Committee. The Menomonie Police Department helped get the word out to landlords, and the Sustainability Office marketed the event.

“This year’s Spring Move-Out was one of our best yet,” Rykal said, noting the event has been held about a dozen years. “Our students were really thankful for a place to drop off items they no longer needed, and we were happy to be able to donate and recycle a number of them.”

Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling Director Morgan Gerk helped direct where items should go for recycling or proper disposal. “We don’t want inappropriate waste going to the landfill,” Gerk said. “The electronics do get recycled by a company that is 100% zero to the landfill. Plastic components from electronics are sent to be incinerated for energy.”

Items such as VCR tapes, DVDs and CDs create valuable British Thermal Units to create energy from incinerators, Gerk noted.

UW-Stout senior environmental science major Kelsea Goettl, of Menomonie, brought a toaster and a metal bucket to the move out that she found while picking up trash in Menomonie about three weeks earlier. “I knew something could be done with things,” she said. “I wanted to find a responsible way to get rid of them. I did.

“This is a great thing to have for students,” Goettl said of Spring Move Out. “When students are leaving they don’t have a lot of time to drop their items off at different places. All the community participants are right here in one easy, accessible place. It’s a one-stop shop.”

Metal that will be recycled.

Fellow student Keaton Sosalla, a sophomore manufacturing engineering major from Whitehall, dropped off a couch and television. “It’s nice to have this,” he said. “That way stuff just isn’t sitting in front of the dumpster. It’s easier for waste management.”

In 2018, UW-Stout again was named one of 399 “green” colleges in the U.S. by Princeton Review, an education services company.

Other ways in which UW-Stout incorporates sustainability into its academic programs and operations are:

  • Campuswide compost and recycling collection system, resulting in a 48 percent decrease in landfill waste
  • A new 10-kilowatt solar array at Merle M. Price Commons, funded by the Stout Student Association’s Green Fee
  • LED light retrofits in 13 campus buildings, exterior walkways and parking lots
  • Opportunities for student sustainability projects
  • Community partnerships with the Joint Sustainability Working Group, Sustainable Dunn, Tainter Menomin Lake Improvement Association and more
  • Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sustainable management, as well as a sustainability minor program
  • Sustainability training at student orientation
  • Outreach campaigns, including Recyclemania, Biggest Reducer Energy Competition, We Turn Lights Off Here and I Love Tap Water
  • Outreach materials through the Sustainable Stout Facebook and Instagram pages, sustainability website, various guides, posters and brochures
  • A student-run garden, UW-Sprout Campus Garden.

Learn more at the Sustainable Stout website.



Students were able to properly dispose of televisions for recycling during the move out. The move out prevents items from being left on streets or by dumpsters and items in good condition were donated to support Habitat for Humanity in Eau Claire.

Metal that will be recycled.

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