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A Student’s Guide to Moving Out

The end of the school year is fast approaching, and it is time to think about what to do with all the stuff that has amassed over the quarters. To reduce unnecessary waste caused by move-out, Northwestern introduced the “Take It or Leave It” program in 1994. The program provides boxes in residence halls where students can leave things they no longer want or take things left by classmates. Items left in the bins are donated to local charities.

Donation boxes will be available in residence halls from June 8 through June 18. Students can drop off unwanted clothing, household goods, and unopened, nonperishable food. Those living off campus can donate to groups like Goodwill or Brown Elephant, or sell or give away items on Craigslist or Evanston Freecycle.

Annually, 10,000 pounds of goods are collected and donated through the Take It or Leave It program. This year, donations will go to Charity Pickup, a group supporting the Vietnam Veterans Association and the Epilepsy Foundation of Chicago. The group works with local thrift stores, providing a valuable resource to many in the community. Donated food is given to The Campus Kitchens at Northwestern University (CKNU). CKNU is a student-run program addressing food waste and hunger in our community

See below for information about what can and cannot be donated, and for more tips on reducing waste during move out.

Donating Clothing

  • Yes: Items that can go in the bins include clean clothing, clean sheets, clean (and dry) towels, pairs of shoes, and small household goods like dishes.
  • No: Do not use the donation bins for stained, threadbare, or dirty clothing, dirty sheets, wet towels, foam mattress pads, hangers, or books.

Donating Food

  • Yes: Use the donation bins only for unopened, nonperishable food such as cans of soup, boxes of cereal, ramen, granola bars, bags of rice, microwave popcorn, and pasta
  • No: Do not donate anything that has been opened, perishables like fruit, milk, and yogurt, or expired foods.

Selling or Donating Books

  • Textbooks can be sold back to Norris or dropped off at used bookstores like Market Fresh Books.


  • Students are encouraged to use the campus recycling bins for paper, cans, plastic containers, and glass.
  • Unwanted electronics like phones, laptops, and printers can be recycled at the Wildcard office. During move out, electronics recycling bins will also be available in residence halls with food service (Sargent, Allison, Foster-Walker, Willard, and Elder).
  • Learn more about what can be recycled at Northwestern if you are not sure how to dispose of other items.


Northwestern recommends using University and Student Services (USS) to store items over the summer. Any size box is $49 with pick up, and it will be delivered back to your dorm room in the fall. Sign up online or visit the USS tent at the Arch and Tech starting on May 30. To find more resources about the move out programs offered, visit the Move Out page on sustainNU.