Clean, Give + Go Green  by Geraldine Tan

Columbia University’s Morningside campus is getting greener each year. How? Its annual Clean, Give + Go Green (CG+GG) recycling and reuse collection event: an innovative approach to campus waste reduction fostering collaboration among departments and partnerships with local charities and recyclers.  This free event started in 2006 for the campus community to clean out unwanted items such as furniture, electronics and books. Since then the event has expanded its scope and changed its name from “Clean and Go Green” to “Clean, Give and Go Green” when, in 2010, the “Give” component was added to encourage the community to donate clothing, food and household items to local charities.

The three day CG+GG events are held at the start of the fall and spring semesters, giving the campus community an opportunity to properly dispose of unwanted items.  Large metal and cardboard containers are staged in the Fairchild courtyard, the Grove and the Lerner walkway. Signs are posted to indicate the location for collection of electronics, furniture, paint, toner, batteries and paper.  The 2010 event also included a book swap tent, paper shredding services and donation collection in the Low Plaza. Collected clothing, food, and household items were donated to the local charities New York Cares and the Broadway Presbyterian Church.

The event relies on the support of several campus organizations including Facilities Operations; Environmental Stewardship; Environmental, Health and Safety (EH&S); and Public Safety. Each group contributes expertise in an operational aspect of the event including arranging vendor services, coordinating materials sorting and managing the labor and equipment.  Continued success of CG+GG would not be possible without the partnership of these organizations.  Staff is on hand to assist with collection and educate donors about recycling.

Over the years, and with the help of the CG+GG program, the collection of electronics at Columbia University has grown tremendously. The figure below shows the quantity of printers, servers, monitors, laptops and peripherals (e.g., mice, keyboards and cables) collected during the events. This material was designated “end-of-life” meaning that it could not be used by another organization due to the age or condition of the material.  Approximately 100,000 pounds of electronics have been collected in the past five years. All the electronics were submitted to Columbia University’s vendor for dismantling into discrete recyclable parts (e.g., metals and plastics). That’s about 50 tons of material kept out of  landfills.

Electronics Collected for Recycling


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