“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” Schools, Colleges and Universities

Tips to Make Less Waste

Simple ways to reduce the amount of waste you generate, and often save money, include:

  • How to start a repair clinic [pdf] - Campus repair clinics can encourage students to repair belongings instead of disposing of them.
  • Resources for repair [pdf] - These "how-to" resources detail every step needed to repair items from clothing to smartphones to vehicles.
  • Borrow or rent items such as tools and equipment instead of buying. Ask your vendors to provide you with leasing options before you buy.
  • Use durable, reusable items instead of disposable, such as washable cups, plates, and cutlery.
  • Buy upgradable computers. If you can upgrade with a single component, you may save money.
  • Go paperless.
  • Set printers to automatically print double-sided.
  • Reduce or remove trash can liners where feasible.
  • Managing and Reducing Wastes: A Guide for Commercial Buildings - The U.S. EPA has created this step-by-step guide for reducing commercial building waste
  • Organics Management - organics can make up 40 percent of our waste stream, but separation and recovery puts these potential resources to good use
  • Donate or share food to reduce waste - The Maine Department of Education has developed a guide for schools to learn how to safely share food and set up donations to ensure no food a school has purchased goes to waste.

Tips to Reuse Classroom and Office Equipment and Furniture

  • Alltech - (Portland) donate or shop used assistive medical equipment. Check the website to see what items are available to purchase or accepted for donation.
  • Environmentally Preferable Purchasing - Maine’s guide to purchasing products without toxics, to be energy-efficient, and to be easily recycled.
  • Everyone's Resource Depot - Located in Farmington, companies donate unwanted goods so they are available for reuse by the public.
  • Furniture Friends(Portland) - This furniture bank in Portland distributes usable furniture that would have gone to the landfill to people in need.
  • Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Threads of Hope - all operate resale stores in Maine and accept donations of used clothing and gently-used furniture. Get a good deal at these stores, and donate your unwanted items to support their socially-responsible missions.
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore - ReStores sell new and lightly used building materials, fixtures, furniture, appliances, tools, and other surplus items donated by individuals, contractors, and businesses to help fund the construction of Habitat homes. The stores are in Bangor, Ellsworth, Kennebunk, Portland, Rockport and Topsham.
  • Maine State Surplus Property - Surplus materials from state departments made available to state, public, and non-profit organizations.
  • PC's for Maine - A non-profit program that accepts computer donations and provides computers and information to increase access to computers to individuals, families, schools and other non-profits.
  • Ruth's Reusable Resources - Helps provide reusable supplies from companies to teachers and students.
  • Swap, sell or buy through Uncle Henry, Maine Craigslist, and Maine Freecycle.

Recycling Contests

College and University Recycling Coalition – Along with facilitating the exchange of technical knowledge and best practices on recycling and waste reduction programs among institutions of higher education, CURC organizes Recycle Mania. This is an annual 10-week waste reduction and recycling competition among colleges and universities nationwide, including several in Maine. 

The Plastic Film Recycling Challenge for Schools and Colleges and Universities – schools, colleges, and universities compete to collect the most recyclable plastic film. The winners receive a composite bench made from recycled materials.

Recycling Grants

  • Clean River Foundation has compiled a list of available recycling grant programs in North America, from environmental education to litter prevention to recycling bins and more.
  • Maine Solid Waste Diversion Grant Program provides public and private entities with grants focused on diverting materials from disposal towards higher and better uses.
  • Resource Recycling provides information on recent recycling grant awards and opportunities.
  • ecomaine offers school recycling grants every fall (these grants are only open to schools located in ecomaine member communities)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education Grants Program support support environmental education projects
  • School Food Recovery Seed Grant  The Natural Resources Council of Maine provides a round of small grants each year to help schools around Maine establish food recovery programs.

Maine DEP is providing this information as a courtesy, and does not recommend or endorse any particular organization or product.

For more information, contact Brian Beneski (207) 287-4858