Waste Minimization and Recycling

Source Reduction Initiatives

The most preferred option for decreasing the amount of waste we produce begins with reducing the amount of single-use or short-lived items we use on campus. Offices on campus partner with the Office of Sustainability to strategize waste reduction techniques including decreasing paper usage, changing purchasing habits, and determining alternatives to single-use items. 

The Office of Sustainability offers a free reusable utensil kit loan to all interested students. These can be used in dining areas on and off campus where reusable utensils are not provided.

Waste Diversion Initiatives

When it is not possible to reduce waste at the source, we work towards the next best options: reusing, recycling, and composting.

Photo of the inside of the Free Store showing mini fridges, microwaves, and more.
The Free Store inventory changes constantly depending on donations, but can include clothing, school supplies, and dorm decor.

Located under the Drake Hall Tunnel, the Free Store is an initiative by Colgate's Office of Sustainability that aims to reduce landfill waste of usable goods, while increasing equitable access to items students need. 

Open Hours:

Tuesdays, 3:30-4:30 PM

Fridays, 2:00-3:00 PM

Closures will be announced on Instagram @Colgatesust.

To donate, please see our accepted items below and bring your clean, usable items during open store hours only. Do not leave donations outside of the Free Store during closed hours.

Accepted Items:

  • Clothing, Shoes, Hangers
  • Bedding, Towels
  • School Supplies
  • Kitchen Supplies
  • Small Functional Electronics
  • Lamps, Fans, Mirrors
  • Laundry Hampers, Shower Caddies
  • Small Furniture
  • Mini-fridges & Microwaves


Not Accepted Items:

  • Damaged or Stained Clothing
  • Broken or Overused Items
  • Large Furniture 
  • Any Food (take it to the on-campus food pantries instead!) 
  • Mattress Toppers
  • Used Makeup and medications
  • Undergarments and socks


Important Shopping Notes:

  • All Colgate students are invited to shop and donate.
  • Only 5 people are permitted in the Free Store at a time.
  • Only take 5 items per person per day. Only 1 of the 5 can be a red-tagged (high-value)
  • All items are completely free.
  • Check out with Free Store staff before leaving! We only take the item number to track our inventory and do not collect any personal information.
  • Be excited that you are preventing landfill waste on campus!


Photo showing rows of donated items, including rugs, lamps, cleaning supplies, and other household goods.
Donated items are sorted before being donated to community partners both on and off-campus.

The Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE) oversees the end-of-year program to collect usable goods from students and redistribute them to community partner organizations around the region.













Colgate is located in Madison County, which features a two-stream recycling process. Always ensure to properly sort recycling into the bin for its proper stream:

  • Paper products
  • Bottles and cans

All recycled items must also be clean to avoid contamination in the recycling process. For more information about Madison County's recycling guidelines:

Obsolete or broken electronic devices (eWaste) should always be recycled. 

Small eWaste items can be brought the ITS help desk on the 3rd floor of the Case-Geyer Library or the eWaste drop box in the Coop.

For larger amounts of eWaste, simply collect eWaste in a common area in your department or office.  When enough waste is collected, submit a work order to have it collected and properly recycled.  All of Colgate's eWaste is taken to EWASTE+, an R2/RIOS and NAID certified recycler in New York State.  Learn more about what can and cannot be recycled at Colgate by visiting the EWASTE+ website.  

Accepted items include:

  • Cell phones
  • Batteries
  • Compact discs
  • Digital cameras
  • Cables and cords
  • Printer cartridges
  • Calculators
  • Other small electronic devices

Larger Electronic Devices

Larger devices such as Colgate-owned television sets, computers, and printers are collected by ITS. Call the ITS Service Desk at 315-228-7111 for assistance.

Terracycle is a company that offers recycling solutions for unusual items. We have several Terracycle specialty collection boxes, including for plastic packaging, razors and blades, and disposable masks. If you have an unusual item on campus that you would like to know if the Office of Sustainability can recycle, contact us at sustainability@colgate.edu.

Several blue 5-gallon buckets full of compostable items, such as produce scraps, eggshells, etc.
Buckets of produce scraps, eggshells, and other backyard compostable items are picked up each week.

Starting with a pilot program in Spring of 2021, the members of the Colgate Community Garden established a composting program with a majority of the student houses along Broad Street. The 5 gallon buckets of compost are collected weekly, weather permitting, and are taken to a space near the Community Garden, where it is then used to fertilize the garden beds. Campus houses and apartments with fewer residents can also be provided with a compost tumbler on site that is emptied only as needed.



Tips for Minimizing Personal Waste

Some keys ways that everyone in the community may help to reduce campus waste include:

  • Carry and fill a reusable water bottle at one of the many refill stations across campus. Find locations on the campus map.
  • Bring a reusable mug for coffee at all on-campus dining halls.
  • Take only the food you will eat when dining at Frank Dining Hall.
  • Carry in your own reusable utensils when dining at Chobani at the Hieber Café or the Coop.
Learn what happens to the items placed in recycling bins on Colgate's campus.

Water Bottle Refill Stations