NEW YORK—College freshmen picked up recycled linens, blankets, and other dorm essentials in Manhattan on July 28 from a program run by two moms who realized how much can be reused after their children finished college.
Liz Gruber and Tara Smith Tyberg created the Grad Bag organization in 2012. Grad Bag volunteers collect comforters, blankets, sheets, laundry bags, hangers, and other products such as lamps, fans, decorative pillows, storage containers, and mirrors.
In 2012 one school donated items and over 30 students received recycled dorm essentials. In 2019, 16 schools donated benefiting 1,700 students.
The organization has recycled 20,000 pounds of linens since its inception.
The Grad Bag program had to stop for the past two years due to the pandemic. This year, the organization anticipates donations from 11 schools and about 500 students coming to pick products they need for their dorm rooms.
A commercial laundry company cleans the linens for free, said Gruber. A trucking company helps transport the donate goods.
“Everybody needs this when they go to college, they’re creating their new homes,” said Gruber. This program is a way to encourage students to donate and live sustainably, she added. Some students who received recycled items returned them after they graduated.
Milani Escolastico studied graphic design in high school and plans to study fashion design in college. The program is helpful because dorm essentials are pricy, she said.