At Harvard, Freecycle events, an online reuse list, move-out donation boxes, and a Recycling and Surplus Center all encourage reuse of donated or unwanted materials.

Surplus materials are donated to community and non-profit organizations, and every fall, Harvard Habitat for Humanity sells back donated materials from move-out to incoming students at its popular Stuff Sale, raising thousands of dollars for charity.

The Green Labs Program promotes reuse for sterile and functional lab equipment and items through lab freecycles and the Reuse Room; and the Resource Efficiency Program (REP) annually distributes reusable mugs to all incoming freshmen.

Additionally, Harvard University Dining Services encourages reuse through reusable container programs in Dining Halls and by offering discounts for patrons using reusable mugs.

Reuse Programs and Resources

HUDS Reusable Container Program

Harvard University Dining Services has a reusable container program in place at its Kennedy School, Cronkhite, Dudley and Sebastian's locations. Here's how it works: 

  1. Customers may claim a token from the Café, which can then be redeemed with the chef preparing lunch.
  2. Meals are then packed in a convenient plastic “clamshell.”
  3. When plastic containers are returned, tokens are given back for use toward the next meal to-go.
  4. Customers participating in this program will not need to wash or clean containers before returning—the Café staff handles all the dirty work so that proper sanitization steps are taken.

In addition, HUDS provides reusable mugs and discounts for using reusable mugs at its retail locations.

Learn more

Freecycle Events and Areas

Freecycle events

Numerous departments and schools host their own reuse events and swaps throughout the year called freecycles. Check our calendar to see if any freecycle events are scheduled on your campus or contact your Green Team to find out how you can set one up.

Every year the Harvard Law School hosts a "Fashion Swapaganza" sponsored by the Women’s Law Association, HL Central, and the Green Living program, tthat serves the triple purposes of social fun, sustainability, and collecting clothing for a good cause. HLS students donate old clothes and then get to update their wardrobe by picking from what's been donating. Leftovers get donated to local charities.

Freecycle Shelves and Areas

All undergraduate dorms and houses now have freecycle shelves and areas for donating and swapping unwanted goods and supplies. Additionally, offices and buildings are increasingly starting shelves or rooms for reuse.

Freecycle FAQ's

What if my item is broken?

If your broken item is electronic, you can take it to the e-waste collection blue tube (for small electronics and batteries) in your building manager’s office. If it is a large electronic item (like a printer), leave it with you building manager to be picked up. If you have clothing that is torn, missing buttons, has a broken zipper, etc., you may still put it on the freecycle shelf. Scrap fabric can have a second life, too!

What if no one takes my item?

The freecycle area will be cleaned out periodically, at which time all items will be donated (or recycled in the case of torn clothing).

Move-In and Move-Out

Students can donate unwanted books, furniture, and other materials before move out in the spring in the donation boxes and stations located at all of the undegraduate Houses and dorms. Harvard Habitat for Humanity will then sort and resell all donated items in the fall at the annual Stuff Sale which raises over $80,000 for the charity.

Your participation helps reduce waste on campus, and benefits numbers of local charities.


The Office for Sustainability encourages the Harvard community to use the HARVie’s Classifieds, open only to Harvard faculty and staff to connect with each other to buy, sell, or exchange furniture, books, electronics, lab equipment and more. 


Labs Reuse 

Labs Reuse is intended for the trade, reuse, and sharing of working laboratory equipment and supplies for Cambridge, Longwood, and affiliated locations. Because of frequent personnel turnover, lab moves, and changing research needs, equipment is often left discarded and unused. Lab freecycles and the BioLabs Reuse Room not only offer a way for these items to be salvaged, but reduces surplus equipment, supplies, and costs through reuse.

Labs Reuse

Harvard Recycling and Surplus Center

Each Thursday, surplus furniture, supplies, and equipment are distributed and received at the Harvard Recycling and Surplus Center, free to anyone on a first-come, first-served basis. The gates are open every Thursday, 10am–1pm at 156 Western Avenue in Allston. As part of this program, Harvard Recycling provides more than 200 schools, police departments, houses of worship, community centers, and homeless shelters across the Boston area with useful items.

If you are a Harvard office or department or local non-profit and will be taking away a truckload or more, the Center can open up another day by arrangement with Harvard FMO Recycling, 617-495-3042.