Sustainable Volunteering Opportunities in Rochester

Volunteering is a great way to make a positive change while learning more about your community. Along with allowing yourself to help others, being a volunteer lets you learn about local organizations as well as providing an opportunity to make new friends. Some organizations rely on volunteers to accomplish its goals and help the community. The following list contains seasonal and year-round volunteering opportunities that are related to environmental sustainability.

Flower City Pickers (FCP)

Time: Saturdays from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm at the Rochester Public Market

Food waste is a big issue in the United States; an estimated one-third of food produced is not eaten. This means that the 30% of food, that could have gone to people in need, is thrown away. As a way to combat this issue, the FCP was formed as a “secular, all inclusive group of volunteers that redistributes leftover and discarded produce from Rochester’s Public Market every Saturday to local homeless shelters, halfway houses, soup kitchens, food pantries, and other organizations with need for food.” The food collected is sorted into three groups and then donated accordingly. Foods in the best condition are donated to homeless shelters, while foods with shorter shelf lives remaining are sent to soup kitchens and other groups who can use the food immediately. Food on the verge of spoiling are given to farmer to feed their livestock and food that has already spoiled is composted. So far, FCP has prevented 200,000 of food from being thrown away.

University of Rochester Grassroots Clothing Exchanges


General Clothing Exchanges- third Thursday of every month, typically 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm in the Hirst Lounge

Queer and Trans Clothing Exchange- once a semester (the weeks following Thanksgiving and spring break), times vary in the Hirst Lounge

The clothing exchange is the perfect way to change up your wardrobe without emptying your wallet. It’s simple—just drop off gently-used clothes you no longer want or take clothes that you like! Volunteers at this event help prevent clothing waste from going into the landfill; the average American throws away 82 pounds of textile waste each year.

Facilities Team Green Move-Out Cleanout and Grassroots Dump & Run

Time: At the end of the spring semester, times may vary

Both programs encourage students moving out of their dorms to donate unwanted items instead of throwing them away. Move-Out Cleanout collects any unwanted clothing, non-perishable food, and electronic items; Dump & Run gathers unwanted and gently-used appliances and furniture.

Facilities Team Green Shred Fest

Time: the third Thursday of July from 6:30 am to 1:30 pm in Park Lot

Many people avoid recycling their personal documents due to the risk of identity theft. As a solution, Shred Fest was created so that personal documents could be shredded and recycled on-site—people even have the opportunity to watch their documents be destroyed! Volunteers at this event help unload boxes and bags from cars and empty them into recycling bins.

This is only a small selection from the list of volunteer opportunities. Now get out there and help the environment and your community!

Written by Michaela Burrell, Class of 2020

Image thanks to Pixabay