Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle. It's just that easy!

Keep Usable Items out of the Landfill!
Begin an H2H-l;ike Program on Your Campus

If your college or university includes dorms or residence halls, you can begin a reuse program like ours! Follow these steps to begin your very own Hoosier to Hoosier Community Partnership and help keep perfectly decent items out of the landfill!

Earn the Cooperation of Your University’s Residence Halls Leadership 

  • Start with the Environmental Services leadership, or whoever is in charge of the dorms’ staffers.

  • Meet them in person.

  • Show them our website

  • Help them understand that you are a responsible program, led by people they can trust to do a good job and that the result will be a significant contribution to the university’s reputation in the community and a source of pride to themselves and their co-workers.

  • After gaining their buy-in, go with them to the residence halls staff leadership.

  • Obtain their commitment to three goals:

  1. Help educate dorm residents about reuse, repurposing, reduction, and recycling. Send emails explaining that this new program will permit them to keep unwanted, but still usable materials, out of the landfill, thus benefiting climate change efforts and local nonprofit organizations in their community. Sponsor a poster contest to publicize the new program. Duplicate the winning posters and place them in heavily-trafficked areas of the dorms. Meet with groups of resident assistants and sustainability program leaders to explain the new program and ask for their help in publicizing it. [Timing: fairly early in the spring semester.]

  2. Ten days or two weeks before the spring semester ends, create a "donation site" in each dorm. Work with each dorm director to set up a large bin, part of a lounge, or some other accessible site (from now on, we’ll call it the “donation site”) where dorm residents can leave usable items they no longer want. Hang posters near the site explaining what can be donated (e.g., clothing, bedding, shoes, books, office supplies, unopened food, lamps, rugs, electronics, etc.) and those local charities will benefit from their donation.

  3. Work with the residence maintenance/cleaning staff. After students have left the dorms when classes end, and dorm staffers clear leftover items from the dorms’ rooms, ask that they bring these leftover materials to the designated donation site. Dorm staffers clear dorm rooms of leftover stuff anyway, so all you’re asking is that they bring their findings to the dorm’s donation site rather than to the dumpster. It’s easier for dorm staffers if you or the residence halls leadership can provide big plastic trash bags to collect these items. Trash, of course, should still be taken to the dumpster!

    • Bag and Tag (IU term for items accidentally left behind). At some universities, dorms must retain any items left in students’ rooms for a minimum amount of time (two weeks or a month), so that students can request that items left behind can be sent back to them. When the “holding period” is over, your real work can begin!

Here’s what to do next:

You’ll have three sets of stakeholders: the dorms’ directors and staff, your own volunteers, and representatives of the local charities participating in the program.

Your own volunteers 

How do you find them? Ask local service organizations of all kinds. See whether local religious groups or other organizations require members to volunteer in community service for a certain number of hours. See if your community has a volunteer bureau. Ask groups who meet in your community over the summer if they’d like to lend their members as volunteers for an afternoon. Put a note on your area’s listserv asking for eager helpers.


You’ll want reliable people, willing to sign a release freeing your group and the university from legal liability if they are somehow harmed by the activity. How many? H2H has a core group of five and normally recruits about 40 volunteers who, along with nonprofit group representatives, work in 12 dorms over a period of two weeks.


Get the contact information for each person who volunteers, so you can confirm the time of their assignment and send thank-you emails afterward.

Dorms directors and staff

Contact each dorm’s director (and/or environmental services director) – or, better yet, have the residence halls director do so for you – to coordinate a day and time to sort items.


Create a schedule: assign each dorm a particular day, in which your own volunteers and any charities’ representatives will come into the donation site, to remove any items their charitable organizations can use. Assign (or let volunteers sign up for) a group of volunteers to each dorm, set a time and place for them to assemble, and send them instructions and a release form.

Representatives of local charities 

Which local charities should be involved, and how is that done? Start with a limited number of charitable organizations in your community: food banks, shelters for people experiencing homelessness, shelters for victims of domestic violence, animal shelters, free clinics, and other groups you think may need items that will be present in your donations.


Shelters often need bedding and linens as well as clothing. They may also need household goods, first aid kits, and small appliances such as fans and microwaves. Some shelters can accept only full bottles of personal care items (shampoos, lotions, OTC medication); others may accept partially-used containers. Animal shelters need bedding, laundry detergent, sanitizers such as Clorox, and office supplies. Free clinics need office supplies and small appliances (microwaves, electronic equipment). Food banks need unopened food, office supplies, and small appliances.


Contact these organizations’ directors. Explain what you’re doing and ask whether they can use these donations. If so, ask them to send one or two representatives – on one day or several days of your program – who know the organization’s needs and can decide what to select from among the donations. Ask them to bring containers to transport the items they select.


Now: It’s action time!

Distribute copies of your daily schedule (dorms, dates, volunteers, and contact info) to all the stakeholders. Let them know where to park at each dorm and whom to contact (and how) once they get there. Each evening, send a reminder to the volunteers and dorm staffers at the dorm to be visited the following day.


Arrange to meet your own volunteers at the day’s dorm at least an hour before charities’ representatives arrive. Use that hour to do a gross sort of all the donations: put the bedding in one part of the room, office supplies in another, clothing in another, electronics and appliances, personal care supplies (opened and unopened shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.), and so on. Then, a charity that needs clothing and bedding can look through the items more efficiently than if it needs to look through all the donations.


You can invite the charitable groups’ representatives to come in shifts, to maintain social distancing, if we are still at that point in the pandemic. Have at least one of your own leaders present at the donation site throughout the day to help and answer questions. Dorms prefer you don't leave guests unattended, even if they are restricted to one area.

It’s important to make sure that the work of the dorm’s staff is not disrupted by your activity, so make sure the noise level is low and the donations do not spill out of the donation area.


You may want to have extra boxes or garbage bags available for charity representatives to use. It’s easiest to transport boxes by breaking them down and then reconstructing them at the donation site (for which you’ll need packing tape).


Complete the day’s activity *before* dorm staffers leave for the day. Before you leave, have your own volunteers go through the donation area to re-bag items left over. Strive to leave the donation area better than what you found it.


Arrange with Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or some other local organization to come into the dorm and pick up the leftover items.


Follow up!

  • · Ask each charity to send you a list of what they’ve taken, so that you can document the benefits of your program.

  • · Send thank-you emails or notes to the dorm’s leadership, any dorm staffers who have helped you, all volunteers, and all participating organizations.

  • · Ask all participants to assess the program and make suggestions for its improvement.

  • · Rest, congratulate yourselves, and plan for next year!