Students take action on move-out day mess

Special to Western News

The idea of reducing student move-out junk has been important to University Students' Council President Matt Helfand since before his election. He said it all started two years ago, when he was in fourth year.

Every April 30, the streets of London’s student neighbourhoods are transformed into garbage dumps. That’s because unwanted furniture, appliances, clothing and other assorted junk is left behind in front of vacated rental houses.

You can practically set your clock by it.

Now, Western’s student government says they’re fed up with the yearly trash-heap tradition. This year, they’re going to do something about it.

The solution? Western’s Move-out Clean-up, a two-day junk collection initiative taking place this year on April 28 and 29, organized by the University Students’ Council (USC).

The USC is encouraging students to drop off unwanted small appliances, clothing, e-waste (such as TVs, phones and other electronics) and non-perishable food at the parking lot of The Ceeps, 671 Richmond St. The donations will be collected by Goodwill, the City of London and the London Food Bank. Furniture will not be collected.

The idea of reducing student move-out junk has been important to USC President Matt Helfand since before his election. He said it all started two years ago, when he was in fourth year.

“I looked around during the move-out days, and I noticed how much garbage was being thrown out that was not being appropriately put in the trash,” he said.

So Helfand “took to Twitter,” and before long, the now-defunct Metro London newspaper picked up the story, and put him on the front page the next day.

“It showed me this is something people are concerned about and notice,” Helfand said.

The majority of the costs of the event are being covered by a grant from Awesome London, an organization that gives out $1,000 grants to fund ideas that would make London better. Helfand said the grant was approved last year, and most of the money is going toward promotional literature and labour costs.

Before now, there has never been a concerted effort to address this problem, Helfand said.

“There’s really not a lot of incentive or information provided to students on how to recycle properly,” he said. “I figured what we need is a one-stop shop for this to provide that information to students.”

Helfand wasn’t the only one who noticed the junk piling up. When the USC contacted The Ceeps with the idea late last year, manager Colin Tattersall said he was happy to help.

“When the students leave, there’s obviously a ton left behind on the streets, all around Richmond and up by the university,” Tattersall said. “Anything that also helps the community is a great thing to do.”

Tattersall said for students who drop off donations, The Ceeps is offering coupons for 20 per cent off food orders on their patio for the month of May. The Ceeps will also help promote the collection days in advance by advertising on their signs in the washrooms and on the marquee outside.

If all goes well this year, the plan is for the junk collection days to become an annual event. Helfand said he would like to see the program expanded to more locations across the city in the future.

Because they started promoting the event early – many students are in exam mode and wouldn’t otherwise be thinking of move-out plans – Helfand hopes to have a good turnout.

“It’s very hard to say what it’s going to be since it’s a pilot,” he said. “But I do think students will be willing to walk a couple blocks to do the conscientious thing.”