By reusing, we reduce our impact on the planet

August 29, 2017

There are many ways to reuse on campus. Carry your own water bottle and fill it for free at one of the many refillable water stations at MIT. Subscribe to the email list and get notifications of items that people are giving away. Come to the monthly Choose to Reuse events at the Stata Center and get lots of reusable stuff for free!

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Choose to Reuse is a collaboration between the Recycling Office and the Working Green Committee. Volunteers range from graduate students and postdocs to staff, alumni and even retirees! The volunteers sort the items as they come in and so get first pick. They monitor the areas during the event and clean up at the end.

Donations come from many sources, including students, people who bring items from home, and offices around campus. What kinds of items get donated? Household items like dishes, pans, glasses, mugs, and silverware. Sports equipment: fencing anyone? Books, electronics, clothes, shoes, jewelry, and purses. The list goes on, because you just never know what will be dropped off.

Want to donate something? All items should be clean and in working order. No expired food items, please. Plus, the items have to be light enough to be carried away easily. Not welcome are old televisions - they are too heavy and unwanted.

What happens to the items that are left over? The volunteers sort them and the items are either donated or recycled. Clothing that is deemed unusable can still be textile recycled, so there is a separate category for that! Some items do end up in the trash, but less than five percent of what comes in ends up there.

The History of MIT's Choose to Reuse

The event began on America Recycles Day in November 2011. Interest in the program has grown over the years with increases in both the number of people attending and the number of donated items. Employees bring in clothes or toys their children have outgrown. Some departments keep a collection box in their offices and one or two people bring down a cartful the day of the event. On average each month, 90 people donate around 1,800 items and 220 stop by to pick up free stuff. That's a lot of items kept out of the landfill!

Last year, Choose to Reuse began restricting the number of items that could be taken before 12:20 pm to five. Why? Although hundreds of items are donated each month, most of the best stuff is taken in the first 20 minutes. So, to provide an opportunity to those who can't take lunch until noon, the limit was implemented. At 12:20 pm, though, people who came earlier can come back for more. The event ends at 1 pm.

Venue details

The Choose to Reuse events are held on the third Thursday of the month from September through May. Drop off begins at 8 am and goes throughout the event, although it's best to drop off items before noon.

We look forward to seeing you at our next Choose to Reuse event, coming up on Thursday, September 21, 2017!