Kaitlin Ingle, a University of Wisconsin-Stout graduate student in sustainable management, had clothing, computer equipment, stereo and food that she knew she wasn’t going to use again after the semester.
Rather than toss them into the trash, Ingle took advantage of UW-Stout’s Spring Move Out May 3-5, which allowed items with life left in them to be reused and other items recycled if possible. The collection site was in a parking lot near the Sports and Fitness Center.
“I think it is important people take responsibility for their impact on the environment,” Ingle said. “Everything you do has an impact. When you throw something away, it doesn’t just go away, it goes somewhere. Living in a rural area, things tend to get left on the sides of roads or city streets. It’s important to give students options as they are moving out.”
The semester ended May 5. Commencement was held May 8.
After earning her undergraduate degree in business administration at UW-Stout in May 2019, Ingle served in the Peace Corps from June to November 2019 to teach human family and life education in South America.
“They don’t have proper recycling or trash disposal,” Ingle noted. “People have burn pits, they throw garbage on the side of roads and in trenches. They use a lot of single-use plastic and go burn them in a barrel.”
That experience helped lead to her decision to return to UW-Stout and study sustainable management, said Ingle, who is a public health educator at the Dunn County Public Health Department. “We can do something about the environment and we should,” she said.
Couches, chairs, tables and dressers from Spring Move Out were some of the items that went to Chippewa Valley Habitat for Humanity in Eau Claire to be reused, said UW-Stout Sustainability Manager Sarah Rykal. Metal futon frames, metal shelves, TVs, laptop computers, printers, microwaves and speakers were recycled. Nonperishable food went to the Helping Hand Food Pantry for UW-Stout students.
“The city wants to ensure boulevards are kept clean during move out,” Rykal said. “We like to offer off-campus students an opportunity to donate, recycle and properly dispose of items they no longer need as they move out of their apartments and houses. It helps to ensure that we are reducing landfill waste by offering a donation program and a recycling program for electronics and metals.”
Last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, students had to bring items to the Dunn County Transfer Station outside of Menomonie for disposal or recycling. No reuse option was available, Rykal said.
“Bringing the full program back this year, with a reuse option in addition to recycling and proper disposal, was good for our students,” Rykal said “We try to stress reusing before recycling to our campus. So, it’s important to have a reuse option for an event like this, to let items that are in good shape live on rather than sending them to a landfill prematurely.”
The UW-Stout Sustainability Office partnered with the city of Menomonie for Spring Move Out. The Stout Student Association split the cost of the event with the city. UW-Stout’s Waste Reduction Work Group also was involved.
Campus sustainability efforts
UW-Stout is committed to sustainability. The campus is a Charter Signatory of the American College and Universities President’s Climate Commitment, an effort to address climate change by committing the campus to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions.
Recycling and composting are campuswide. Students and staff can ride community and campus buses for free with a current campus identification.
The campus is a bronze level Bike Friendly University, a designation from the League of American Bicyclists for promoting and providing a bikeable campus. Students can rent a bike through the StoutBikes bike share, and there are bike lockers to rent on campus
The campus retrofitted buildings and outdoor areas with LED lights, which will save the campus $89,000 a year in energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
An additional $150,000 in solar panels is slated to be added to Merle M. Price Commons this summer to generate electricity, and an energy kiosk in the building will show how much energy is being produced by those panels. In 2017, 32 solar panels were placed on Price Commons.
The student Green Fee funded two dual-port electric vehicle charging stations to allow employees and students with EVs to charge on campus. The Price Commons 1960s kitchen hood vent is slated for replacement, also saving energy.
In addition to a master’s degree in sustainable management, UW-Stout offers a minor in sustainability.