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Green purchasing refers to the procurement of goods and services that have a reduced effect on human health and the environment as compared to competing goods and services serving the same purpose.

Vanderbilt’s Purchasing Services’ Department prefers that our suppliers use environmentally-preferable products, materials, and sources wherever economically feasible. If two products are competitive in performance characteristics and pricing, the university will favor the more environmentally-friendly product or company.  Procurement Services has worked closely with preferred office products, janitorial products, and laboratory products suppliers to provide more easily identified environmentally-preferable product selections. Read more about Purchasing and Payment Services’ Green Purchasing Program online.

Since each department or school at Vanderbilt buys its own supplies and equipment, greening your department, school, or individual purchases is a way to have a direct, significant impact on the local community and the environment. SustainVU’s Greening Guides are a great resource for information concerning green purchasing and procurement!

Here are some simple steps you can take to purchase greener products:

Office Supplies

  • Buy paper products with at least 30% post-consumer recycled content. These products are already available through eProcurement at no quality difference. This includes printer and copier paper, paper plates and cups, paper towels and napkins, folders, Post-It Notes, and more! Curious what type of paper you should purchase for your specific office needs?
  • When buying office supplies such as glue or liquid paper, choose non-toxic varieties
  • Purchase recycled or remanufactured laser toner and ink jet cartridges from Guy Brown through the eProcurement system. Recycled cartridges have been tested and page yields are equal to nonrecycled varieties. Remanufactured cartridges are produced from old printer cartridge parts that have been reused or repaired and examined, washed and tested individually to meet or exceed the cartridge manufacturer quality standards. It’s better to re-use parts of old printer cartridges than to create new waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators! When it is time to switch out your cartridge, don’t forget to recycle the old one!
  • Guy Brown, Vanderbilt’s preferred office supply vendor, has a number of greening initiatives! Check out their website for more information.

Electronics and Equipment

  • Buy LCD flat panel monitors for your desktop computers. LCD Flat panels use 30% less energy than a CRT and are less harmful to the environment.
  • When purchasing any electronics or equipment, look for the Energy Star or EPEAT rating which ensures that the product uses energy efficiently as possible.


  • When having new carpet installed, choose carpet with high post-consumer recycled content. Also, consider installing carpet tiles instead of traditional carpet. Carpet tiles can be more economical and reduce waste because single tiles can be replaced when damaged or worn.
  • Choose paints, sealants, and carpet with low or No Volatile Organic Compounds (low or no-VOC).
  • When purchasing wood furniture or wood flooring, look for wood that is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, meaning it came from a sustainably harvested forest.
  • Purchase plastic and metal modular furniture that is high in post-consumer recycled content and easily disassembled. Products that can be taken apart and reconfigured are more easily repaired, reduce waste by being reused, and can be recycled.
  • Check out surplus opportunities here at Vanderbilt. The new Vandy FreeSwap program allows Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff to give away (and get) free, usable, unwanted items to others instead of disposing of them in landfills. The VUMC Plant Services group also has a Surplus Equipment Store, which allows the Vanderbilt community and the public to purchase surplus items from their warehouse. Lastly, check out the Vanderbilt Classifieds for current items for sale.


  • If you are planning a small conference or meeting, try hosting a video-conference to eliminate travel issues altogether!
  • Seek out local accommodations that are within walking distance to your meeting or event location.
  • If you are planning an event, make sure to provide options for environmentally-friendly transportation. These include: hiring shuttles to transport participants in groups to and from airports or hotels; provision of information about public transportation; posting a ride-share network on the event’s website for carpooling opportunities; and provision of local accommodations within walking distance to the event. See FutureVU Sustainability’s Event Greening Guide for more information!