IT News & Events

News about IT at Indiana University and the world


New "smalls" program a big deal for IU sustainability

Don't sweat the small stuff -- think green and send it to IU Surplus

IU Surplus Stores and IU Mail Services have teamed up to help you recycle not just the big stuff, but the small stuff, too.

Sure, everyone knows you can resell office chairs, filing cabinets, and overhead projectors, but now IU Surplus Stores and IU Mail Services want you to start thinking small. Whether for resale, repurpose, or recycle, even the smallest items can have a big impact on sustainability efforts at Indiana University.

Got used pens, highlighters, or paper clips? How about power cords or an old mouse? Maybe an old cell phone or some used CDs? No item is too small — just send them on to IU Surplus.

Here’s how: Grab a campus mail envelope, mark IU Surplus Stores as the recipient, place your unwanted small items in the envelope, and deposit it in your department’s campus mail pick up location. IU Mail Service couriers will pick up your small items and deliver them to the IU Warehouse facility (2931 East Tenth Street, Bloomington). It's that easy.

Do you have something a little too big for an envelope? No problem. If you can carry it without too much effort, Mail Services can deliver it. Try a box, or visit the IU Surplus Stores website ( to schedule a free pick up. 

The new small stuff program kicked off in February, the brainchild of Todd Reid, manager for the IU Surplus Stores and IU Warehouse and Noma Maier, UITS sustainable IT services project manager.

"One of the best aspects of the 'smalls' program," said Maier, "is that we implemented it without creating a new system. Since campus mail already runs these routes, we were able to take advantage of an existing resource."

"We are more than pleased to be involved with the transportation to IU Surplus through Mail Services," said Bo Shipley, assistant manager at IU Bloomington Mail Service. "Considering we visit most places on campus twice daily, it makes sense for us to handle the 'smalls' task."

In addition to harnessing a pre-existing network, the new recycling emphasis will help IU meet sustainability goals. Existing recycling efforts already divert 20% of IU waste from the landfill — halfway to the goal of 40% by 2020. But there's even more to the story: By selling reusable items at a good price to both IU departments and the community, IU Surplus Stores helps the university be a good steward of resources.

"Too many of the items we throw away simply aren't waste at all," said Reid, who resells hard drive-free copiers for about $2,000. Refurbished computers with all accessories run about $150, while a bag of paper clips is a mere 50 cents. These sales have allowed IU Surplus Stores to reimburse approximately $185,000 to university departments.

Reid also heads up a secure shredding operation at IU Surplus Stores that intercepted close to 77 tons of paper headed for a landfill in 2013. That’s 269 cubic yards of landfill space and 1,300 trees saved. These paper-recycling efforts also reduced IU fuel requirements by 3,200 gallons, and oil consumption by almost 5,000 gallons. Thanks to Reid and his team, IU's 2013 secure shredding operations removed 7,003 kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and reduced water consumption by nearly 600,000 gallons.

Many IU Surplus customers have found new uses for items. One customer put together a laptop cooling station for three dollars by repurposing a small computer fan and plastic document caddy. Another transformed a library card catalog into a wine cabinet. Reid displays repurposed items on the IU Surplus Facebook page (, and gives an additional 30% discount to each customer whose item generates over 100 likes.

IU departments also enjoy a 30% discount at IU Surplus, while Bloomington-area teachers get a 50% discount the entire month of August. Four times a year, IU Surplus holds a Super Saturday sale. The next is slated for March 29.

It's easy to overlook the small stuff when thinking of items suitable for reuse — particularly in this age of ever-increasing digitization. But IU Surplus Stores can resell printer cartridges, computers, mice, cables, and even redundant promotional materials. So, even if you’re unsure about a particular item, send it in and let IU Surplus decide.

"We’ll take it all, big or small," said Reid.

Visit the IU Surplus Stores ( website for links to online ordering options and customer-specific information. To learn more about the "smalls" program, visit

IU Surplus hours of operation

IU departments: Mon-Fri, 8am-5:30pm (Weds, until 7:30pm)

General public: Mon-Fri, Noon-5:30pm (Weds, until 7:30pm)