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Choose Your Impact

You can have a positive impact!

Nearly every day we are faced with choices pertaining to consumption and discarding of objects and/or their packaging. It’s no secret that these choices have an impact on the environment, humanity and wildlife. Too often, though, we focus on what we should avoid doing, but it’s worth noting the many actions we can choose that help create a positive impact.

No matter what motivates you, or how "into it" you are, we, at the Surplus Store & Recycling Center, aim to help you manage waste as a resource, make informed choices, and have a positive impact. Below are some general suggestions and actions you can take to have a positive impact. Many are likely part of your routine already and others may be lifelong goals.

For ease of understanding, the suggestions are separated into tiers related to how the action engages you and your choices.

Questions to Ask

  1. RETHINK – Where am I willing to make changes in my consumption and discard habits? What complexities exist making it difficult to reduce my waste? In what ways can I be an advocate for change at the system level?
  2. REDUCE – How can I reduce my consumption of resources? How can I reduce the amount of waste I generate? Do I have habits that create more waste than I would like? How could I change? Can I reduce my reliance on single-use items?
  3. REUSE – What options exist for me to practice reuse, repair and upcycling? Can any of the items I usually recycle or landfill be reused?
  4. RECYCLE + COMPOST – Do I recycle regularly? Is it possible for me to compost? What barriers exist to either of these actions? Do I need more information? Do I need to advocate for access? Do I simply need to designate a better space to collect these items at home?
  5. LANDFILL AS A LAST RESORT – Do I consider my other options before tossing something in the trash? Do I pay attention to what I throw away?

As you go through each day and make choices along the way, take note of the systemic challenges and consider what needs to change on a bigger level. We all know system-wide change won’t happen overnight, so celebrate progress where you can, recognize where you have choices, and continue to focus on making a positive impact. 

Actions & Suggestions


  • Align your choices with your environmental and social values as best you can.
  • Advocate for system-wide change by making your voice heard. Contact your representatives in government to express support for legislation that advances circular economic practices. Contact companies to explain your gripes or express your support for their packaging and material choices.
  • Refuse unnecessary single-use items and excessive packaging.
  • Think twice before consuming and discarding!
  • Keep in mind ways to keep your items in circulation, and out of the landfill.
  • Begin to see waste as a resource… a world of opportunity is sitting there waiting for you to get creative!
  • Learn more about how these choices impact others -- explore the documentaries, articles, and books in the Environmental Justice & Sustainable Purchasing resource guide, created in partnership with MSU Libraries.
  • Campus Tips
    • Students:
      • Join a sustainable student group and consider participating in the Student Sustainability Leadership Council. Learn more.
    • Staff/Faculty:
      • Join the Waste Warriors! Through education and training, the program fosters waste-related behavior change and helps reduce the amount of waste disposed of on campus.
      • Doing an office-wide clean out? Consider how you can go green while cleaning up your space. Contact for more information.


  • Reduce consumption overall.
  • When purchasing new products, favor items that contain recycled content.
  • Use refillables instead of single-use items
  • Inventory your waste with SSRC's step-by-step Home Waste Audit Guide.
  • Target one area in your house to reduce waste. Try these tips to reduce waste in the bathroom from packaging and other sources.
  • Begin to develop zero waste habits.


  • Reuse and share what you have; borrow or shop secondhand for what you need.
  • Repair and recreate to extend the useful life of goods and materials -- DIY or find a pro.
  • Practice conventional reuse -- shop secondhand at local retailers like the MSU Surplus Store! View our Collections.
  • Practice creative reuse, as modeled through Spartan Upcycle and the MSU Shadows Collection. (Learn more about Shadows)
  • Try free-cycling! Swing by and peruse the MSU Surplus Store Free Area, located just to the left of the front door to the store.
  • Campus Tips
    • Staff/Faculty:
      • Facilitate reuse of unwanted, good-condition office supplies. View our Waste Warrior resources to help get set up.
      • Have a large item that you no longer need and would like to send to the Surplus Store? Submit a service request to facilitate pick-up.


    • Composting organic waste, such as select food scraps and yard trimmings, replenishes soil with nutrients for the food web. 
    • Learn about how some campus food waste is composted with worms through the vermicompost program at MSU Surplus Store & Recycling Center. 
    • Learn how to compost at home. 


  • Place items securely in the trash to avoid flyaway litter.
  • Since 1987, when the campus recycling program began, MSU has decreased its yearly landfill totals by 55% and the annual amount of landfill material produced per student has decreased by 66%. Over the years 2016-2020, on-campus trash per person/per day dropped over 35%.
  • SSRC continues to work to improve the campus landfill diversion rate, and we can't do it without the help of committed Spartans. Sound like you? Awesome! Check out our Waste Warrior program, designed for MSU faculty and staff.