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Spring Cleaning the Sustainable and Charitable Way ‘Un-Dumpster Day’ in Kansas City Redirects 9,000 Pounds from Landfills

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Above image credit: The UnDumpster event collected over 9,000 pounds of clothing, books, shoes and household goods to donate to area charities. (Cami Koons | Flatland)
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5 minute read

A line of cars snaked around the South Broadland Presbyterian Church parking lot on Saturday morning.  

As vehicles pulled through the line, volunteers rushed to open back hatches and unload vacuums, bags of clothes, old computers, books — any lightly used items that Kansas Citians decided to part ways with.  

Once unloaded, local charities sorted the items and divvied them up so that each organization got the items it could use best.  

Leslie Scott started the Un-Dumpster Day event in 2022 to flip the script on the “dumpster days” often hosted by sanitation departments.  

“People bring their stuff, and whether it’s still usable or not, it goes in the dumpster,” Scott said. 

Her idea: rather than throw these still-good items out, let’s find them a new home.  

A middle-aged woman smiles while pushing a box into the back of an open SUV
Leslie Scott founded Re.Use.Full to support the many nonprofits in the Kansas City area who rely on clothing and item donations. (Cami Koons | Flatland)

Nonprofit Support  

Scott started her website and nonprofit Re.Use.Full in 2020 after years of directing her friends and family members to local charities when they had items to donate.  

“The goal initially was … to create this website so that people can find these organizations and learn how they can give to them and then arrange for their donation,” Scott said.  

The Re.Use.Full website compares itself to Tinder. It helps folks make connections, but they must set up the “date” and logistics.  

Scott was inspired by local events, like the Overland Park Recycling Extravaganza (set for April 20 this year), and wanted to have a website that filled in the gaps for folks who couldn’t make it out to a big event.  

“You can find a place for your stuff at, 365 (days a year),” Scott said.  

It also helps to elevate smaller nonprofits that don’t get as many donations, simply because folks are unaware that they exist. 

She started the Un-Dumpster Day event in 2022 to bring the digital services of Re.Use.Full into the “IRL” space.  

The connectivity of the event is what convinced Brianna Zinser it was the best place to take her soundbar, lamp, vacuum and some children’s shoes that she had cleaned out of her home.

“I figured it would be nice because they have a bunch of different groups, so whoever can get the most use out of (the donation) that’s where it’s going to go,” Zinser said.  

Zinser’s items were quickly weighed and then distributed to the various trucks, branded with their associated charity.  

A man and a woman unload a lamp from the back of an SUV
Volunteers helped to unload items from cars as they pulled up to the church parking lot for the Un-Dumpster Day event. (Cami Koons | Flatland)

For many of the attending organizations, like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City, Healing House and Sleepyhead Beds, the Un-Dumpster Day event is another way to interact with the community. These larger charities have full-time donation collection teams that gather truckloads on a regular basis.  

Terry Green with Big Brothers and Big Sisters sat in front of a box truck that was about one-third full. He was happy to be at the event and for the extra support, but in terms of donations, he said it was just the “tip of the iceberg.” 

For smaller organizations, like Circul KC, Un-Dumpster Day makes a big difference.  

Circul KC was started by 10-year-old Catalina Campos, who grew up volunteering in the nursing home where her mom worked. Campos quickly developed a heart for service and wanted to find a way to do more.  

Circul KC’s main program is a Grandparents Closet, which gives older adults access to clothing and household items. But Campos said she also collects and distributes items for pet shelters and children.  

“I can’t believe how many people there are in need who don’t get helped,” Campos said.  

A young girl sits in the back of an SUV and hugs her large black and brown dog.
Catalina Campos had help collecting goods for Circul KC from her parents and dog. (Cami Koons | Flatland)

With about 30 minutes left in the event, Campos and her family struggled to tuck the last few items into their very full SUV and laughed about needing a truck for the next event. 

“There’s a lot of things that we need that we don’t have, and this (event) fills in the blanks,” Campos said.  

Other small charities like the Friends of Johnson County Library and the medical supply closet at the First United Methodist Church in Lawrence, Kansas, had significant take aways from the event.  

On the south side of the church, the event’s title sponsor, AARP, had a truck set up to shred documents.  

Diane Hall, the community outreach coordinator with AARP, said shredding sensitive documents and promoting decluttering are important to keeping folks healthy.  

“We try to support things like this because it helps our community have access to things like this,” Hall said.  

The truck shredded over 3,500 pounds of paper at the event on Saturday. 

A sign along a sidewalk reads "Un-Dumpster Day This Saturday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m."
Over 250 cars came through the Un-Dumpster Day event on Saturday. (Cami Koons | Flatland)

Sustainable Decluttering 

Scott saw sustainability as the “icing on the cake” to supporting local charities through Re.Use.Full, but quickly learned most participants look at it the other way around.  

According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans on average generate 4.9 pounds of municipal solid waste, per person per day. The same data from 2018 shows that only 30% of that waste is either recycled or composted. 

The EPA also states that the best ways to minimize greenhouse gas emissions is to reduce and to reuse products. This saves raw materials, reduces production emissions and keeps landfills from filling as quickly. 

Events like Un-Dumpster Day can help. Scott instructs people to only donate items they would give to a friend or family member to keep.

It can also be a convenient way to declutter hard-to-dispose-of items.  

Laura Olvera pulled up on Saturday with a hatchback full of computer parts that have been cluttering her house since her husband retired his computer business.  

“This is a perfect time to get out and start cleaning it out,” Olvera said.  

A man in a black shirt unloads small boxes from the back of a red car.
William Thomas, a co-owner of IT Recycling Answers, helps to unload old computer parts from a vehicle. (Cami Koons | Flatland)

William Thomas, a co-owner of IT Recycling Answers, unloaded Olvera’s equipment and carefully stacked the elements in his open box truck.  

The Kansas City IT company normally services businesses, but Thomas said he was happy to take part in the event and help folks dispose of their dead electronics.  

“I don’t mind donating time on a Saturday to help out,” Thomas said.  

Specifically, he’s happy to support Kansas City residents who want to have more respect for the environment by properly disposing of their electronics.  

Items collected by Thomas at the event will be broken apart into their components and sent off to partnering companies that recycle the parts. Thomas said all the hard drives will get crushed at IT Recycling Answers. 

In a similar vein, Re.Use.Full will host a computer repair cafe April 20 at the Mid-Continent Public Library North Independence Branch. The nonprofit also hosts monthly webinars on various sustainability topics, recently on green burial and gardening tips.  

“Something we’ve been doing as an organization is to provide people with ways that they can make positive change,” Scott said. “It can seem really overwhelming to think about how to stop climate change, but there are individual actions and behaviors that we can take.”  

Cami Koons covers rural affairs for Kansas City PBS in cooperation with Report for America. The work of our Report for America corps members is made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. 

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