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Reduce Waste

Northwestern is dedicated to reducing the amount of waste we send to landfills. Recycling is one important strategy used to pursue our waste reduction goals. Other strategies include purchasing no more than necessary, reusing items when possible, donating equipment that is no longer needed, and composting organic material. Below you’ll find more information for how you can do your part to reduce waste at Northwestern and in your community.


  • Consider your purchasing needs and buy no more than necessary.
  • Look for items with minimal packaging. Less packaging means less waste.
  • Buy durable items that last longer.
  • Avoid purchasing disposable items such as paper cups and plates. When possible, look for reusable items instead.
  • Print documents only when necessary. Distribute materials electronically and print double-sided when you need to print.
  • Eliminate junk mail by going to Catalog Choice or contacting companies and organizations directly to opt for paperless communication.


  • Choose reusable items rather than disposable ones when possible. For example, carry a refillable water bottle, and opt for reusable shopping bags, mugs, utensils, and plates.
  • Designate an area in your home or office to collect extra materials, such as scrap paper or office supplies for reuse.
  • Post University-owned equipment, electronics, and furniture for reuse on the Surplus Property Exchange. If a significant quantity of furniture is being replaced or removed, please contact sustainNU at least a month in advance.
  • Donate what you don’t need to local charities. When donating Northwestern property be sure to have the receiver complete the Northwestern Indemnification Agreement and keep this document in your records.
  • Donate to the Take It or Leave It program at the end of each academic year. sustainNU coordinates this program in all residence halls, collecting items for donation to items to local charities.


  • Recycle paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and more through Northwestern, Evanston, and Chicago. Visit our main recycling page for details.
  • Recycle all electronic waste. It’s illegal to dispose of many electronic items in the trash, so please be sure to recycle them.
  • Buy recycled goods such as paper with a high percentage of post-consumer content.
  • Recycle food and yard waste by composting. Check out the Evanston composting program or contact sustainNU about options for composting at campus events.