A key strategy to reducing campus waste involves integrating principles of a circular economy that prioritizes reuse, recovery, and refurbishment of existing materials and products.
Give It Up! is a program run by the Center for Learning in Action that enables students to donate their unwanted items during move-out in the spring to local charities and non-profits, benefiting the local community and reducing waste at the same time.
Many items donated to Give It Up! are sent to the First Congregational Church (between Paresky and Schapiro) where volunteers clean and sort items in the summer before selling them to the campus community for affordable prices in the Fall Tag Sale.
Clothing donated to Give It Up! is sent to ABC Pop-Up Clothing store on Spring Street where volunteers sort and clean the items and sell them to the community year-round in their store.
For more information about Give It Up! including the items that can and cannot be donated, pod locations, other donation recipients, and the environmental impact of items, visit the GIU! page.
The Fall Tag Sale is a joint effort between the First Congregational Church and ABC Clothing Sale. As mentioned above in the Give It Up! section, volunteers clean, organize, and store donated items over the summer and offer them to students at affordable prices when students move back to campus. The Tag Sale is typically held on move-in day for First Years during First Days, with a pre-sale open to international students and First Gen students they week before during their pre-orientation.
Did you know that desktops, laptops, monitors, keyboards, mice, printers and other peripherals that connect to computers can all be recycled? GreenUp is an annual event/service for members of the Williams community that takes place each May and early June. This year, the GreenUp days are from 12pm-2pm
Thursday May 18, 2023
Friday May 19, 2023
Friday June 2, 2023
at the Facilities Storage Barn behind the tennis courts.
Gently used clothes can be given a new life by donating them to one of the clothing donation programs in town.
ABC Clothing is a local non-profit on Spring Street, the proceeds from which "benefit local charitable organizations that serve youth and families at risk and address hunger, poverty, and inequality in our community." You can donate your gently used clothes at the drop boxes in the back of the Paresky Center or by putting them in the Give It Up! pods at the end of the spring semester.
In the Spring of 2023, Williams YDSA and Williams Mutual Aid launched a FreeStore is on the second floor of Goodrich above the Coffee Bar. They accept all clothing/shoes, school supplies, unused hygiene products and nonperishable unopened food items, linens and household items. The goals of the FreeStore are providing mutual aid among students and reducing waste sent to landfills. Read more in the article written by one of the organizers.
Williams College’s capital building projects include both new construction and renovation. Capital building projects are undertaken with the expectation that the lifespan of buildings will be between fifty and a hundred years, if not more.
One way to reuse building materials is to repurpose the whole building, and the College has an affinity for doing so, especially those that have played an important role in its history or are embedded in its cultural identity. One example is the current Class of 1966 Environmental Center, a Living Building Challenge petal certified building that fuses new construction on the west side with a historic structure, most recently called Kellogg House, which was the home of the first four college presidents. Another example is the Davis Center, also pursuing LBC petal certification, which is repurposing and renovating Rice House due in large part to the building's history around Black student activism.
In addition to repurposing buildings themselves, the college works to salvage building materials from construction and demolition whenever possible. Salvaging building materials aligns with goals in the college’s Zero Waste Action Plan to create a more circular campus and divert materials from landfills for reuse or recycling whenever possible - as well as the college’s Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to building construction and waste management. Sometimes these salvaged materials are repurposed in another building project.
For instance, prior to the construction of the Sawyer library in its current location in 2014, there was a building with staff offices attached to the back of Stetson Hall. That addition was demolished in order to add the new Sawyer library. The slate from that previous building was saved to be used as the accent pieces throughout the Class of ’66 Environmental Center. In 2023, old planks of wood from the Davis Center were able to be salvaged and repurposed as garden beds rather than sent to the landfill.
The Williams College Museum of Art began using reusable, modular gallery walls in certain spaces in Fall of 2021. To learn more, read this post written by Ainsley Ogletree '25.
Housed in and managed by Planning Design & Construction, the Furniture Reuse Program facilitates the exchange of college-owned furniture and equipment within the campus community. Staff and faculty can request furniture or send gently used furniture to be repurposed elsewhere on campus. To learn more, visit PDC's website.