When thousands of college students, or new college graduates, move out of their apartments and thousands more move in, there is going to be trash.

Sofas, rugs, pots, appliances and tables missing a leg or two.

Last week, five tons of trash were picked up. It makes for a messy several days along downtown Charleston streets, where lots of students rent apartments. It’s even more of a mess when showers turn the streetside clutter into a sodden glop.

And it makes for some understandably frustrated neighbors who have to maneuver around piles of trash the size of a pair of circus elephants, but not so cute.

Some of those neighbors complained last week. Eben Smith, who lives in Harleston Village, said residents shouldn’t bear the burden of students’ excesses. He’s right.

Annually the city and the College of Charleston join forces for the move-out/move-in spectacle. Since 2007, the College’s Office of Community Relations has been donating $2,000 each summer toward the cleanup effort. In addition, the city ramps up its trash collection services.

Several years ago, strategies were implemented to see that more of the items were recycled. This year, a cargo trailer was half filled with items to be reused by Goodwill Industries.

Operation Moveout, the town/gown effort, honed in on educating tenants about where to put items for pickup and how to donate and recycle others this year.

Still, moving day is likely to bring a new set of problems each year. The people who are educated this year will be replaced by a new crop of students who will need educating about the safe disposal of trash.

In 2010 Charleston adopted regulations aimed at holding landlords responsible if their tenants create a mess, a measure aimed at absentee owners who rent downtown apartments to college students.

Each year brings new insights into how to ease the pain of the tumult.

The College of Charleston, the city, landlords and neighbors all need to be part of ongoing discussions about the logistics. It would be a good idea to bring students in on the conversation also.

And while the group is at it, members could discuss noise, vandalism, drunkenness, skateboards and parking — all issues that drive wedges between the town and the gown.

The College of Charleston brings vitality to Charleston. It enhances the arts scene, and it adds to the economy.

The benefits far outweigh the challenges it brings. And all involved should strive to keep it that way, starting with managing move-out/move-in to be as painless as possible.