The Washington Business Journal recognized GW's Green Move-Out program with a Green Business Award for Innovation on Thursday.
The award highlights the University's efforts to green-up their act with the move out program, which the WBJ called a creative solution for the tons of waste students leave behind during move out every year.
Instead of throwing away what students leave behind during move out, which would add to area landfills, Green Move-Out donated the items students left behind to local food banks and homeless shelters.
"We're honored to have received this prestigious award and feel it shows that GW is making great progress on the path towards becoming a leading sustainable University," said Sophie Waskow, the engagement coordinator of the Office of Sustainability, in an e-mail.
Green Move-Out 2009 collected 2,169 bags of clothing, which was equivalent to 50,537 pounds, according to the Green Move-Out Web site. Additionally, 2,719 pounds of food donations were collected.
"The amount of donations equates to the weight of over 17 hippos, 9,450 MacBooks or 69,000 tall Starbucks lattes," said Matt Trainum, a director of GW Housing Programs, in an e-mail.
These items are then given to various charities, including The National Children's Center, Bread for the City, So Others Might Eat, the Capital Area Food Bank and local animal shelters.
The Green Move-Out program was nominated for the award by GW's Office of Sustainability.
"The role of our office is to help bring visibility and recognition to programs like Green Move-Out. We also support such programs in any way we can," Waskow said.
Trainum said Green Move-Out received an award for innovation due to the long and complicated process it took to find charities that would accept all of the items GW students leave behind in their residence halls after moving out.
"The innovation comes from the scale and complexity of what we did with the program over the last two years," Trainum said. "The scale and complexity is reflected through the partnerships [we have] and the ability to handle a large amount of donations."
The Green Move-Out Program took extra steps to secure that all donations given were usable for the D.C. community. For example, said Trainum, "every year we get lots of linens-sheets, comforters, pillows, etc. However, most charities won't take those items because of their prior use."
Knowing this, GW took extra steps to find an organization within D.C. that would be able to truly utilize the linens.
"Animal shelters were willing to take these sheets. In prior years we would have given them to charity partners that likely would not have used them," Trainum said. "Preventing these things from happening makes [this] program innovative."
Spencer Olson, executive director of Green GW, a student organization on campus involved in helping Green Move-Out run smoothly, said that while the program was successful, there is still room for improvement.
"I think what we would like to see different is that we would like to see a component about reducing waste," Olson said.
Trainum said he is thrilled with the award, and attributed the success of the event to all those that participated.
"The only way [Green Move-Out] is successful is through our student leaders and through our student donations," Trainum said. "If we don't have student leaders and students giving, we would be just like any other school."