Resource Use

Programs & Resources

Learn how IU is working their way toward 40% overall waste reduction 2020. Explore initiatives that are diverting waste from the landfill and check out the informative online resources to learn about waste diversion on campus.

Indiana University currently utilizes four strategies to reduce waste and increase waste diversion (prevent things from going to a landfill). These are waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting. Take a moment to browse through these strategies below to get a better idea of how we are managing waste. If you have a question that isn't answered here, please contact


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There is no doubt that reduction is the best strategy if the goal is sustainable waste management. Like other forms of resource conservation, the benefits are far-reaching; by avoiding waste, we prevent the need for disposal, which saves money and energy and preserves the environment. At IU, we begin to think about waste reduction by examining what we purchase. Our purchasing habits are an integral piece of the No-Waste puzzle because conscious, efficient, and informed purchasing is the easiest way to reduce waste upstream. With proper purchasing strategies in place, achieving a sustainable No-Waste Cycle is a much more manageable goal.

Learn more about how IU is reducing waste through purchasing initiatives and policies: 

  • Green Procurement Guide
    • The Green Procurement Guide educates Indiana University consumers about the opportunities each of us have to question the potential impacts of university product offerings and helps us to make informed choices when working through the university’s purchasing system. You can access the guide here.
  • Data Collection
    • The IUOS is currently working with the IU Office of Procurement as well as the various campus working groups to identify products or certifications to track through the procurement system. Tracking these products and certifications will provide a benchmark to measure the current status and future progress of Indiana University’s resource use.
  • Campus-Wide Policies
    • RPS Discount Refill Policy: At any RPS dining facility, you can fill any reusable container with any soda or tea for just 59 cents!
    • Old Growth Tree Policy: Indiana University has eliminated all old-growth wood products from the purchasing plans of all IU campuses.
    • Energy Star Qualified Electronics: This policy was created in 2008 concerning all energy consuming products, appliances and equipment purchased by the University, specifying this equipment to be Energy Star Qualified whenever possible or practical. 
    • LEED Silver Certification: The University has committed to a policy that sets a benchmark for all new structures to be constructed to achieve a LEED silver certification as defined by the U.S. Green Building Council. This certification specifies:

But how can I reduce my waste?

  • In my office
    • Coordinate with departments to promote bulk ordering and reduced packaging.
    • Before ordering a new product from a vendor, consider utilizing the IU Surplus Store.
  • In my apartment
    • Don't buy new furniture - instead save money by visiting the IU Surplus Store, the Hoosier to Hoosier Community Sale, or local resale businesses such as Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
  • Personal purchases
    • Minimize packaging - Minimize the packaging of each purchase and consider reusing old boxes or containers for other purposes.
    • Fair Trade Products - When available, purchasing fair trade items support the social movement to help the producers in developing countries earn a higher wage for their goods, as well as better environmental health and safety standards. Fair Trade USA is one of the recognized certifiers of these products.
    • Local Purchasing - Consider locally grown and produced food to reduce transportation impact and to support the local economy. This also can be an effective way to reduce packaging from your purchases.

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After waste reduction, the best way we can reduce the impact of our trash is to reuse it. Many of the items we consider waste aren’t waste at all - furniture, office supplies, home goods - if it’s clean and not too broken, someone somewhere wants it. Indiana University has taken measures to provide spaces and opportunities for this exchange.

IU Surplus Stores

IU Surplus Stores provide services for the proper disposal of unneeded university property. By returning surplus items into circulation with sales to university departments and to the general public, Surplus Stores plays an important part in sustainability efforts at IU.

H2H volunteersThe Hoosier to Hoosier Community Sale is a huge resale effort that takes place every year in August. The program collects reusable items during student move-out, sells them back to students and community members, and donates the proceeds to local charities.


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If it can't be prevented or reused, it must be recycled. Recycling is a major economic driver in the U.S. responsible for tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in exports each year. Recycling saves considerable amounts of energy and prevents environmental damage through landfilling. IU is serious about making recycling opportunities convenient for everyone on campus.

Indoor recycling

An indoor recycling station

Currently, every building on campus should have recycling containers. In public areas such as hallways and classrooms, recycling is "dual stream", meaning there will be seperate containers for paper/cardboard and plastic/aluminum/glass. Because it is easier to recycle when trash containers are located next to recycling containers, building staff are actively rearranging these containers into "waste stations" (photo below).

Outdoor recycling containers

Outdoor recycling

You will find many places to recycle outdoors on campus. These containers are "single stream" meaning all recyclables, such as paper, cardboard, plastic, metals, and glass, can be deposited in the same bin. For convenience, these bins are always paired with trash container.

Event recycling

Want to have portable recycling bins at your event? The Office of Sustainability has a limited number of event recycling bins for loan to university departments. Contact for more information.

Recycling student organizations

Greening Cream and Crimson is a popular student organization that works with IU Athletics and the Office of Sustainability to implement sustainability initiatives. One of GCC’s most successful efforts is its tailgate recycling program, which engages volunteers and fans to prevent littering and increase recycling before and during major sporting events.


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Hilltop Compost Partnership

Composting area at Hilltop Garden-Nature Center

Currently, several campus dining facilities are collecting post-consumer food waste for composting at Hilltop Garden and Nature Center. The finished material is used in the Edible Campus Initiative's Campus Garden. In this small way, we have "closed the loop!"

SPROUTS Garden Compost Partnership

Students Producing Organics under the Sun (SPROUTS) is a collaborative student and community project focused on teaching environmental education and self-sufficiency through gardening. SPROUTS members have composted pre-consumer food waste from campus dining facilities.

IU/Local Growers' Guild Partnership

IU is working with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to create a program where local growers would collect pre-consumer food waste and use it in their own composting operations. This partnership is currently awaiting approval.