Downtown Madison moving days underway in earnest, keeping city crews and others busy

MADISON, Wis. — Any time more than 20,000 people move in and out of homes in the course of a few days, a big mess is bound to follow. The city of Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a non-profit are working together to clean the mess left behind.

Some leases turn over on August 1, but most UW students living off campus transition in and out of their homes for the school year this week. The 20,000 students moving in and out are equivalent to the entire city of Middleton just up and leaving. It leaves behind quite the mess, typically along curbs.

Instead of ditching your items on the curb, Goodwill wants you to donate. They’ve put donation boxes in each UW residence hall, encouraging students to turn their trash into treasure.

“For the first two weeks of August, we’ve picked up 6,000 pounds of materials, so that’s 6,000 pounds we’ve kept out of landfills,” Jill Carlson, Goodwill of Southern Wisconsin’s communications coordinator, said.

UW also has its own Sustainability Move Out concept. Last year, the school kept 162 microwaves and 9,000 pounds of carpet out of the landfill.

The city’s Streets Department picks up the estimated 1,000,000 pounds students leave on the curb. Its crews are working around the clock to clean the streets by this weekend.

After Friday, the city returns to appointment-only pickups for large items.

“August 15th is the big day when there’s so much stuff that’s pushed out to the curb. We had our crews begin at 4 a.m. today to begin clawing back or collecting as much of that stuff as we possibly can, trying to keep the city as clean as we can to get caught up from all the moving,” said Bryan Johnson, the city of Madison’s recycling coordinator.

Moving is a messy business, but instead of filling the landfills the next time you move, UW recommends taking an inventory of the items you need and donating the rest.