Waste prevention tips

On campus

In your travels around campus, going to classes, going to the library or taking a lunch break, keep in mind these simple ways to reduce the amount of waste you generate along the way.

  • Bring a reusable or thermal plastic mug with you for trips to individual coffee makers in break areas. (Paper or polystyrene foam cups can really add up during a semester.)
  • Copy articles double-sided when possible and request double-sided printing at copy centers.
  • In libraries, make copies only of materials that you really need, and use machines properly to avoid misprints. (This saves you money, too.)
  • Think about whether you need to make copies at all. Can you check out the book or journal instead of copying the article or section you want? Do you need to make so many fliers to hang around campus? Post your information online or email it instead.

In computer labs

You are not likely thinking about waste prevention while rushing to finish a term paper, but these suggestions are quick and easy to do and can save you time in the long run:

  • Use the Print Preview function to look at documents before printing. Use spell-check and edit on the screen.
  • Print single-spaced for drafts and save the required double spaced copies for the final version only. (Print Preview can tell you if you are within the page limits.)
  • Take some of the printing paper that's been printed on one side, and reuse it for taking notes or as scrap paper instead of using new paper.
  • If you print it, pick it up. People often send printed documents to the network printers and fail to pick them up.
  • Save files and email messages electronically, and don't print out a hard copy of everything.


A major waste item in offices is paper. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to reduce the amount of paper used. Using less paper also saves your department money. Here are some tips:

  • Store information on disks rather than on hard copy. (This saves space in your filing cabinets too.)
  • Route items around the office or post them on a bulletin board for everyone to see instead of making separate copies for each person.
  • Use both sides of the paper before recycling it. Set printers and copiers to default to double-sided printing or copying. Fill an extra paper tray with paper that has already been printed on one side to use in printing draft documents. Use scrap paper for taking messages or writing notes before recycling it.
  • If you must use paper, choose paper that can be recycled and paper that is made from recycled content.
  • Before discarding any office supplies, check around and see if anyone else could use them. Establish a mini waste exchange in your office using a storage closet or cabinet. Let others know that they should check the waste exchange for office supplies before buying new supplies.
  • Use email instead of paper for sending messages. Resist the temptation to print out hard copies of email messages.
  • Reuse Campus Mail envelopes if you need to distribute information on campus. (For large mailings, obtain envelopes from nearby offices rather than buying brand new ones.)
  • Provide reusable coffee mugs for visitors. Use mugs and silverware instead of disposable cups and plastic/wood stirrers. Purchase sugar and creamer in bulk, rather than individually wrapped portions.
  • Toner cartridges from laser printers and print cartridges from fax machines can be refilled and reconditioned. Check with the ITS Department for further details.
  • Avoid "junk mail" by notifying companies that send you unwanted mail. Ask companies that you do business with to not sell or trade your name.

Materials recycled on campus

Bottles/cans and newspaper 

  • We recycle plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars, aluminum and steel cans and newspaper. 
  • WE do not recycle paper cups, plastic food containers and plastic bags. 
  • Discard all plastic tops, rinse and flatten plastics

Office paper 

  • WE recycle white paper, computer/copy paper, colored paper, envelopes, index cards, fliers and brochures, notebook paper and envelopes. 
  • WE do not recycle paper/binder clips, spiral notebooks, carbon paper or glossary paper.
  • You can remove the spiral metal in notebooks and discard the paper.

Ink-jet cartridges
These cartridges are sent to a remanufacturing company. When you order ink-jet cartridges, they come with a return package. Please put your used cartridges into the envelope for return and put them in the mail.

I'm cleaning out my office and need to throw away a lot of stuff. What should I do?

You can ask for a clean-out cart by completing an EagleAssist request. Clean-out carts are used for material that is not recycle content. Make sure that all necessary materials that can be recycled are put into recycle bins.

What do I do with items that are to big for recycle bins, such as cardboard boxes?

All cardboard boxes must be broken down, and anything that does not fit into a recycle or regular trash container must have a note attached stating "Trash." It is also a good idea to write an EagleAssist request asking for a special pick up for trash.

Can I recycle spiral or metal-bound notebooks?

Yes, if the metal is removed from the notebook.

Can padded mailing envelopes be put in the recycling bin?

There are two kinds. The "bubble" padded kind (with the plastic inside) cannot be recycled. The fiber-filled "jiffy" type (with shredded newspapers inside) can be recycled in any paper recycling bin.

What can I do with reusable campus mail envelopes?

The mailroom will take back used Campus Mail envelopes. Bundle them neatly together, mark "Return to Mailroom." If your office is doing a large campus mailing, check with others in your building for extra envelopes. After all address slots are used up, you can recycle the envelope. Instead of purchasing new Campus Mail envelopes, you can always create a sheet on Excel and print and tape the sheet over the old names.

Where do all the recyclables go?

Office paper, plastic and aluminum bottles and cans are collected in the large blue bins by our housekeeping staff. Housekeeping staff then puts all material in another container outside by the dumpster for pick up by our waste contractor, which takes it to a recycle center.

Why do materials have to be flattened?

Quite simply, it conserves space. The more material that can fit into the recycling cart or dumpster, the more that can fit on our truck. This saves time, energy and gasoline.