What Stanford students leave behind

Crothers students donated to the Give & Go program as they packed up for summer.

You can tell a lot about Stanford students by what they choose to leave behind when they pack up and leave for the summer. They like plastic containers with drawers.

That’s what you’ll find in some 300 donation containers located at the major entrances and exits to residences. The donation containers are part of Residential & Dining Enterprises’ “Give & Go” program, which encourages students to give away their goods rather than send them to the landfill.

Donations at Roble Hall

According to KRISTIN PARINEH, sustainability and utilities manager in Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE), undergraduates generally donate clothing, books, shoes, small kitchen items and lots and lots of plastic. Graduate students and upperclass students living on the Row tend more toward chairs, lamps and tables. Some of the more memorable items Parineh has seen include costumes from events, disco balls and even a 5-foot teddy bear.

Each year, the donations add up to between 35 and 55 tons of materials – most headed to Goodwill in San Jose. There, the items are sorted and many are sold in one of the discount Goodwill stores that give people – many with specialized needs – the skills they need in the work force. Other items are sent to people in need throughout the world.

R&DE has been sponsoring a move-out donation program for more than 10 years. The program was recently rebranded Give & Go and given an alpaca as a mascot after a student intern discovered students want to better understand the three main benefits of the program: 1) reducing waste sent to landfill, 2) supporting the community, and 3) saving time while packing up.

Although Goodwill is the primary recipient of the students’ donations, it’s not the only one. For example, non-perishable food is better directed to the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto. R&DE also partners with Students for a Sustainable Stanford and FLIP, the First-Generation Low-Income Partnership, to collect and store mini-fridges that can be shared with low-income first-year students in the fall. The program also encourages students to return to the dining hall dishes and silverware that may have been gathering in their rooms.