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Exodus Project “needs to start earlier and needs more resources”

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LUSU’s Environmental Projects Coordinator, Darren Axe, has said that this year’s Exodus Project has been “going pretty smoothly,” but needs more time and resources for it to continue its success in future years. The Exodus Project – which is run by Green Lancaster with support from the University’s Facilities department – allows students to donate unwanted possessions to charity or other organisations, where they will be reused or recycled rather than being thrown away. The project annually collects 16 tonnes of unwanted possessions a year. This year the project is running from Friday Week 9 until July 11th, a period Axe would like to see extended in the future.

“We would like to present a case next year to bring the start date forward a lot,” Axe told SCAN. “From the experience we’ve had over the past two years of running it, we think that there’s actually a real latent demand for collections starting almost from Week 1 of the Summer Term.”

Axe continued: “Obviously that is going to bring higher costs, so one of our objectives this year is to prove to the University that this project needs to start earlier and needs more resources.

“It needs a presence from earlier in the year, and hopefully from doing that and getting people on board from around the Easter vacation next year, we can get that message out from Week 1 so that more people know about it and we’ll get less cases of people saying to us ‘oh, I didn’t know I could donate all my stuff – I’ve just put it all in the [rubbish] bin.’”

Despite Axe’s desire to see the programme’s period extended, he heralded the success of the Exodus Project so far, stating that the Project annually reaches the capacity of the 12 charities Green Lancaster works with. “We’ve always collected more than 12 tonnes of donations every year,” Axe told SCAN.

In terms of marketing the project, Axe said: “We’ve managed to get posters up and articles on the LUSU website; we also have fliers which go out to flats which we also hand out on the spine. However, we still do suffer year-on-year with people saying ‘oh I didn’t know about that project,’ but I think that happens across the board with almost everything.”

The University’s Environment and Sustainable Travel Co-ordinator, Philip Longton, praised the expansion of the Exodus Project, and suggested the scheme was helping to “positively change environmental behaviour amongst students.” “The growth of the Exodus Project in recent years has enabled the weight of Exodus donations for reuse to grow to around 16 tonnes a year,” Longton told SCAN. “This is helping the University to apply its duties under the waste hierarchy in maximising the reuse potential of surplus items in favour of recycling them – and reducing the amount of student waste going to landfill.

“Very large quantities of reusable items are discarded at the end of the summer term and it is such a waste of resources when these get thrown away with general waste.  We would really encourage all residents vacating their flats to participate in Project Exodus and sort out reusable items before throwing them away.”

Green Lancaster began the Exodus Project four years ago, following a smaller-scale operation by the University’s Facilities department. This precursor to the Exodus Project enabled students moving out of halls of residence across campus to leave their unwanted possessions in a central place, at which point charities were invited to take the possessions. In 2010 Green Lancaster, part-funded by Facilities, were asked to take on the operation and promotion of the Exodus Project. This involved working with existing charities as well as enticing new ones to enter into the scheme. “We hoped that a greater amount of donations would come out of a larger project by involving more student volunteers, marketing it across campus and getting posters up,” Axe said.

Students can donate their possessions via marked bins in certain locations of every college, as well as at Chancellor’s Wharf.

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