How to Move-Out Sustainably

After writing a wonderful blog post on Sustainapalooza, Honors student Lauren Young is back with a new article on moving out sustainably!  If you’re leaving Ames for the summer then be sure to check out these helpful tips on cleaning out your residence hall room or apartment!


Hello, I’m back again! My name is Lauren Young, and I am a freshman at Iowa State University. I have been given the amazing opportunity to conduct research this semester through the Honors Mentor Program, and I have been working with the Office of Sustainability and the Live Green! Initiative.

The research I have been doing is a little different than your typical research in a lab. My tasks include things like doing research for the monthly newsletter, going to events, and writing blog posts! Working with the Live Green team and learning a variety of new things about sustainability has been an awesome experience, and I’m also learning how to effectively communicate my findings to students.

For this particular blog post, I was challenged to make my move-out at the end of the year more sustainable!

Moving your belongings from your apartment or dorm all the way back home can be incredibly daunting.  As a freshman, I’ve never had to deal with moving out – until now! So, I decided to begin my move-out process by taking an inventory of all of my items.

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I spent time walking around my dorm and looking at all the stuff I had crammed everywhere. Even though my room is small, I still had a ton of stuff! My list consisted of things like a shower curtain, textbooks, unused school supplies, washrags, shower shelf, rugs, extra cleaning supplies, blankets, and unwanted clothes. It was a pretty lengthy list!

Next, I made a plan for each item: take it home, give it away, or throw it out. For example, I wanted to keep all my bedding, but I could get rid of all of my extra Clorox wipes. After looking at all of my plans, I realized there was definitely room for improvement when it comes to being more green and sustainable.

Did I really need to throw out all of my cleaning supplies?

Were there ways that I could repurpose my old rugs?

Is there somewhere I can donate clothes I don’t need? 

After doing some research, I found a lot of sustainable alternatives to throwing out unwanted things. There are countless places that take donations around Ames, and I was also able to find some crafty ways to repurpose old items (thanks Pinterest!) like the shower caddy shelf in my shower. Did you know you that shower caddies are a great place for potted plants?

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Next I needed to decide what I could get rid of now and what I would need to keep until my final move-out. For example, I had some extra clothes and rags I had no use for, but I’d need things like textbooks and my shower curtain until the end of the year. If there were things I could get rid of now, I decided I might as well get a head start and donate them right away. Starting early means less stress for me when it came to finals week and move-out.

My grandparents live in Ames, so I asked them to come out with me for a day of donations. I loaded up two bags!  The first one contained Clorox and Windex wipes, rags, and a blanket. The local Ames Animal Shelter uses these and loves donations, so the first bag went there. They were very excited and thankful for the donation, and I even got to hold a puppy, so overall it was a great experience!

My second bag contained gently-used clothes, a laundry bag, and a fan. My grandma added some of her things to my pile and all of those items went to The Salvation Army. Unlike other donation sites, both of the organizations I donated to keep their items in the local Ames community. So donating my residence hall items was a great way to give back to the town I love!

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About a week later I was done using one of my books for English, so I did not need it anymore. My sorority, Pi Beta Phi, has a philanthropy that supports literacy, and for the philanthropy we take book donations. So I donated my book to our philanthropy!

I was lightening my move out load while contributing to a cause I love. The best part is, as a college student with no car, all of the places I donated items to could be reached by the CyRide bus system!

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As for the rest of my items, I’ve already planned out where each item should go. For example, I am not usually one to keep old textbooks, so when finals end I will be ready to get rid of them, either by selling them back to the University Bookstore or donating them to the Ames Public Library. There are also Facebook pages and other secure websites that allow for textbook selling and swapping, and one of the easiest ways to get rid of books is to ask  friends if they’d like to purchase them for next semester.

The ISU Department of Residence also offers a program called SAVE that begins April 21 and continues until May 11. The SAVE program provides drop-off locations in many of the residential areas so students can get rid of unwanted items all at once .

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Since there are some items that I will not use until next semester, my grandparents offered to store them here in Ames.  (Thanks, grandparents!)  It doesn’t make sense to move those items home just have to have them go unused all summer. If you have a lot of residence hall items you’d rather keep in Ames, you can look into renting a storage unit or you can ask friends staying in Ames to store your items for the summer.

Now finals week and move out will be a breeze for me! I have less to move out, and I have plans for each and every piece that’s still left. Taking stock of all the items in my residence hall room really helped me to make a move out plan rather than having to make last minute decisions.

It also felt good to give back to the community, and I now I won’t have a guilty conscience from throwing an excessive amount of stuff in the trash! I encourage you all to make a move-out plan, but even if you don’t it is still important to be conscientious about the items that you throw away during move out.  Overall taking stock of your residence hall items will definitely make your life easier and help the community and the environment at the same time! It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN.


Written by: Lauren Young
Edited by: Laurelin Haas and Madi VanGundy
Featured image from: blog.a1storage.com

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