Stuff. We have a lot of it — and at the end of the school year, a lot of it ends up in the landfill as students Move-Out of residence halls. The goal of PACKSmart is to pack more strategically and to pack with sustainability in mind during Move-In. Not only does packing smart save you money, but it also saves the landfill space from all that stuff– from the production line waste, to when it breaks, or when we just get tired of all that stuff.

 How to PACKSmart for Move-In

Need help planning for your upcoming Move-In at NC State? We asked students and staff for their input on which items are must-haves and how you can save money, resources and space in the car when you move to campus. Here are some great tips:


  • Twin extra-long sheets, 36”x80” : You probably don’t already own these, but if you move into a bigger bed next year, donate these sheets at Move-Out or find a great diy project to reuse them. (Hint: the flat sheet from this set can be split and made into curtains!)
  • Pillows and pillow cases: No need to buy new; reuse the ones you already own.
  • Bedspread, comforter or blanket: Rather than buying one of those coordinated bed-in-a-bag sets, consider making a t-shirt quilt out of all of your beloved high school tees. Or make your room feel like home by bringing your bedspread, comforter or blanket from home instead of buying new.
  • Alarm clock: Don’t we all use our phones now anyway?
  • Mattress pad: Look for a hypo-allergenic pad if you typically use one.
  • Dishes, cups and eating utensils (non-breakable and microwave safe): Bring only what you need, and consider purchasing items that can be reused across campus- like a reusable cup and straw and spork. Remember too that University Dining provides reusable containers for those times when you need a to-go meal! If you want to keep items on-hand, bring a spare single set from home or buy them cheap from a thrift shop!
  • Can opener: Does ramen come in a can? Unless you think you’ll be cooking and buying canned goods, you may be able to leave this home.
  • Coffee/tea maker: Coffee is offered at almost every NC State Dining location, so use your meal plan and avoid the mess and expense of brewing your own. If you need that late-night java in your room, purchase reusable K-cups or filters and be sure to buy ground, fair trade, shade grown coffee! Plus, check with your roomie so you both don’t bring one!
  • Reusable water bottle: YES! YES! This is an absolute must. Many locations on campus now have water-bottle refilling stations available as well.
  • Sealed plastic containers/ bags (food storage): Instead of plastic, consider Pyrex or some other form of non-toxic container.
  • Chip clips: Use a broken plastic pants hanger instead of buying new
  • Napkins or paper towels: Forget the paper towels and bring washable hand towels and dish rags that can be thrown in with your laundry.
  • Snacks: Choose local and organic when possible!
  • Drinks: Nothing beats the H20, but if you need something out of a can or bottle, remember to recycle it!
  • Dishsoap: Biodegradable is best! Consider environmentally friendly brands such as Seventh Generation, Method, and Mrs. Meyers. (Hint: add a touch of your dishsoap to a spraybottle filled with water)
  • Electric countertop grill: Meal plan, remember? But if you are a grilled-cheese type of student check with your roommate to make sure you both don’t bring one. (Hint: a mini-waffle maker uses less energy and makes terrific grilled sandwiches!)
  • Desk lamp: Try an energy efficient bulb and get your lamp used/second-hand)
  • Computer/printer/ accessories: You may not need your own printer since you have access to printing through your All Campus Card and Wolfprint stations are located all over campus (several of them in the residence halls). If you do want a room printer, consider sharing one with you roommate. Look for EnergyStar or EPEAT certifications.
  • Backpack: Obvs, right? But consider using the same back pack from high school (it’s not a big deal).
  • Desk supplies (paper, notebooks, binders, etc.): Be on the lookout for our Free School Stuff Bins the beginning of each semester! We give these (gently used items) away for free! (Hint: we place them between Bragaw & Sullivan)
  • Calendar or planner: Go digital with your NC State gmail account’s Google calendar – link your class schedule to your calendar and link your calendar to your phone!
  • Bulletin board and pushpins: Find these at thrift stores!
  • Trash bags: Reuse plastic shopping bags (that you only have because you forgot your reusable shopping bags at home, right?)
  • USB drive
  • Ethernet cable
  • Toiletries (toilet paper provided in residence halls): Check the labels and try to purchase environmentally friendly items.
  • Bathrobe: Only buy one if you think you’ll actually use it. If you buy one, make it last!
  • Towels and washcloths: Take the ones from home! No need to buy new.
  • Shower shoes: Ok, you need these. But, if you already own plastic flip-flops then don’t buy more!
  • Shower caddy: Check the thrift stores to make this purchase or upcycle an old sand-pail!
  • Laundry basket or bag: For your roomie’s sake, yes, you might want this. But think about how you can upcycle a box or bag or perhaps use an item for dual purposes (laundry and seat perhaps?)
  • Laundry detergent (for High Efficiency (HE) frontloading washing machines): Choose biodegradable and environmentally friendly brands (such as Seventh Generation) or make your own!
  • Dryer sheets: Consider a reusable dryer ball- or, a DIY alternative. Check for ideas!
  • Clothes hangers: You can find these in abundance at thrifts stores and yard sales!
  • Iron with auto-off/ ironing board: The number one item that students say they NEVER used! If you still think its a must, at least check with your roommate- you will only need 1 after all (if that!)
  • Clothes drying rack: A great sustainable option vs. the energy of a dryer– but will you really use it? If not, leave it at the store.
  • Lint roller: If you don’t use this now, then don’t bring it.
  • Fabric softener: Ditto! It’s just another thing to carry to the laundry room if it’s not a product you typically use.
  • Plants: Plants are great for improving your indoor air quality (think about a Boston Fern or Golden Pothos). However, before bringing a plant, check to see what kind of light you will have in your specific room.
  • Pictures/posters
  • Area carpet or scatter rugs: Coordinate with your roommate so you don’t both buy room-sized rugs. Look for an area carpet that will be durable to last beyond your first year or ones that can be recycled. (Rugs with thick “pile” are more easily recycled – just be sure they get sent to a rug recycler when you are done with them). Or if you’re really crafty, make a braided rug with old sheets, t-shirts, and other fabrics; there are also scrap pieces of rug at many big box home improvement stores that you could get for free. When it’s time for Move-Out, don’t throw it away if you won’t use it again- donate it!
  • Removable adhesive/ hooks/ blue tape (Nothing that will leave damaging marks on walls)
  • Curtains and spring rods: All residence hall rooms have blinds, so curtains aren’t needed for privacy. But if you want to add them, wait until you see your room to decide, especially as some room windows can be tricky to fit with a rod. If you are going to purchase, consider making them from old sheets, an old shower curtain from home, or a thrift store. Curtain rods can often be found at a Habitat ReStore or thrift store as well.
  • TV and coaxial cable: mmm, isn’t this what your laptop and phone are for?
  • iPod or MP3 player/headphones: Obvs! (Though don’t you just use your phone?)
  • Dry erase board/markers: Check out a local thrift store  or Habitat ReStore!
  • DVDs and DVD player: Again laptop, right?
  • Cards and group games: Old school fun is still fun- find great games at your local thrift store!
  • Umbrella: Definitely useful, but look for a long-lasting umbrella and not one you have to chuck after each use.
  • Jacket/raincoat: If you don’t already have one, thrift stores have entire coat sections of great options.
  • Flashlight: You’ve got a phone, right? If you wan’t to be really green, consider a hand-crank flashlight!
  • Small tool setIt’s likely you won’t make any repairs; you’ll call the maintenance hotline.
  • Student ID (if already created): again…Duh.
  • Vehicle registration/insurance card (if bringing car to campus): Obvs.
  • Extra set of car keys (if bringing car to campus): Just remember where you keep them!
  • First aid kit: You won’t need a whole kit– just think of the essentials to bring.
  • Bicycle with durable U-bolt lock: And a HELMET! Parking can be difficult for students; the fastest route to class is by bike! Register your bike with transportation so if it gets stolen it may be more easily recovered.
  • Key chain for room key: You will probably get a lanyard (or 2) from different groups on campus after you move-in.
  • Cell phone and charger: YES!
  • Power strip with a surge protector: Look for “smart” strips that save energy
  • Storage boxes (under-the-bed, on wheels, tubs, etc.): Upcycle boxes from home or check out local thrift stores before buying new ones!
  • Cleaning supplies (dust rags, sponge, multipurpose cleaner): Choose products that are environmentally friendly and multi-purpose! Bring cleaning cloths from home that can be washed.
  • Small vacuum or broom: Check with your roommate before bringing!
  • Fan: All residence halls have air conditioning and climate controls, so only bring a fan if you think you’d use it.
  • Odor eliminator: Get a plant that improves air-quality! (Remember that candles and incense are prohibited from residence halls.) Plus, most air fresheners on the market are really bad for indoor air quality and people with asthma.
  • Closet organizer/shoe racks: Don’t buy new until you’ve lived in your room for awhile- You’ll get a better feel for how you want to organize your space and can make smarter purchasing decisions.
  • Batteries for electronics: Purchase rechargeable batteries! When you’re done, look for the yellow electronic-recycling bins on campus for proper disposal.
  • Earplugs: Wait before making this purchase.  Hopefully you won’t need these!


Definitely leave these items at home! We want you to PACKSmart and PACKSafe!

  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Pets other than fish (10-gallon tank limit per person)
  • Dart boards
  • Water beds
  • Weapons
  • Extension cords
  • Air conditioners
  • Lava Lamps
  • Ceiling fans/lights
  • Toasters, burners or hot plates
  • Heaters
  • Fireworks
  • Explosives or unsafe chemicals
  • Candles and incense

You’ve taken the time to PACKSmart, now take the extra steps to understand how to properly sort any waste you may have. For additional questions, check out our What To Do With list or contact our office

TALL Sort your stuff Move IN 2016

PACKSmart Social Media Contest

The PACKSmart competition is your opportunity to share your ideas on how you’ve incorporated sustainability into your packing list for moving onto campus. Use #PACKSmart17 to tag your photos with other incoming students this fall!

PACKSmart will save you money, but can also put some money back in your pocket!

By participating in PACKSmart, NC State students living on campus can win prizes including money towards the purchase of textbooks from the NC State Bookstore and various swag prizes like reusable cups & bags. These prizes will be awarded in the following categories: Best Thrift Store Find, Best Reuse Idea, Coolest DIY and an overall Grand Prize Winner.

#PACKSmart17 is part of the 2017 Wolf Den Design Challenge, where over $1,500 in total prizes will be awarded.


Check out the winners from last year’s #PACKSmart Social Media Contest:


This contest is exclusive to students living on campus at NC State University.
>The image must be publicly shared on a social media platform of your choice. You must add the hashtag #PackSmart17 to your post so we can find it.
>There is no limitation in number of submissions per person
>Submissions to the contest will be accepted until 11:59:59 on Aug. 15, 2017.
>Winners will be selected by a panel of students and staff chosen by the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling.
>The winners will be announced on NC State Recycles social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and website.
>All winners must agree to let the Technician newspaper photograph the winning space.
>On-campus rooms must comply with the residential guidelines (no prohibited items).

Option 1:
>Tag your photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #PackSmart17
>Set you account to public so that we can see your submissions and contact you
>Post your photos by 11:59:59 on Aug. 15, 2017, for the chance to win.
Option 2:
>Use this Google Form
>Contestants must submit photos or a short, narrated video approximately 2 minutes in length to University Housing. Videos can be created via mobile phone or video camera but should be filmed in high resolution with a horizontal format. This helps us archive entries.