KU donation and recycling drive abandoned due to budget cuts

As students move out of residence halls, furniture and appliances are left behind. | Photo by Wesley Cudney

The donation and recycling drive to collect unwanted appliances and furniture was largely abandoned last spring without any announcement. Microwaves and futons were piled high in dumpsters outside campus residence halls and apartments. Multiple administrators in KU Facilities cited the ongoing budget crisis as to why the Center for Sustainability program was abandoned.

Some University students salvaged those useable items from the dumpsters. Turner Seals, a Topeka sophomore majoring in environmental studies, started a non-profit called the Green Exchange with his friend Luke Stanford. Seals said in an interview that the goal of the Green Exchange is to resell the items that were donated to them or that they salvaged from the residence halls for cheap on the Facebook Marketplace.

“There’s really no purpose of throwing it away, or stuff like that, when someone else could easily use it,” Seals said. “You know, it’s just trying to keep it out of the trash and give it to someone else that will use it.”

Joshua Quick, the Recycling Operations Coordinator for KU Recycling, said he spoke with Seals about salvaging furniture and appliances from the campus dumpsters.

Unwanted appliances and furniture fill dumpsters outside of residence halls. The University donation and recycling drive is no longer active. | Photo by Wesley Cudney

“He said that he ran a non-for-profit organization and asked if he could dumpster dive and I said you can, however, it is not consentful,” Quick said.

He said it was still considered trespassing, so if Seals was to be stopped by anyone affiliated with the university, Quick and KU Recycling would not be held responsible.

“So, it is totally free will and that’s what I told him as well,” Quick said. “But he was doing it for his own cause, so, I had no problems with that.”

The Center for Sustainability at KU, which lists the move-out recycling and donation program as one of its strategies for reducing the amount of furniture and equipment sent to landfills, directed comments to Quick in KU Recycling.

Quick said the program was reduced because of the budget cuts to the Center. “I don’t know if you’re aware, but the budget has been cut extremely with KU. We do not have the resources or manpower to provide all of the furnishings.”

Quick said in previous years Recycling and Surplus would partner with Habitat for Humanity and Sustainability Action Network to move and store the donated furniture. That couldn’t happen last spring because of space constraints and the COVID-19 pandemic, Quick said.

He also said he did not know if KU Recycling was still a program under the Center for Sustainability or if it was moved exclusively under KU Facilities.

Read the full story at the University Daily Kansan.

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