This fall Southeast Como’s neighborhood free store may not be an option for students moving off-campus.
At this point, funding has not been secured for Move In/Move Out, or MIMO, the waste reduction project utilized by students and residents looking to donate and pick up reusable household items.
Without outside funding, the Southeast Como Improvement Association will not be able to host MIMO for the fall moving season, said Justin Eibenholzl, an environmental coordinator for SECIA and an organizer of the MIMO project.
During moving seasons, MIMO is meant to reduce waste and reuse furniture, appliances, and other household goods left behind as curbside trash.
Throughout the past four MIMO events, almost 26,000 pounds of furniture and household goods have been diverted to attendees and more than 2,800 people have participated.
“Rather than throwing this stuff away, we’re putting it to good use and making it available to people who may need those things for free. We’re recycling and saving people money,” Eibenholzl said.
In the past, MIMO has been funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the McKnight Foundation, and the University of Minnesota Good Neighbor Fund.
Although the MPCA supported the project from 2009 to 2011, it can no longer fund MIMO due to specific grant limitations.
“The grant was not designed to provide ongoing operational funds for projects. The program under which MIMO was funded is intended for innovative first-time-out projects to give them a kick-start,” said Madalyn Cioci, a waste prevention specialist and the MPCA’s grant manager for the MIMO project.
The events run for several weeks and are timed to correspond with busy moving periods for students before the fall semester begins and just after the spring semester has ended.
Eibenholzl said currently the cost of organizing the event, coordinating volunteer staff and getting the materials to promote the event makes the cost too great unless it receives outside funding.
The MPCA is continuing to work with SECIA to find partnerships within the community that could create a more sustainable program and would not rely on continued grant funding, Cioci said.