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Sustainable Department Greening Guide

Tips for reducing your environmental impact around the office

Sustainability is achieved when the needs of the present population are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. To achieve sustainability, we should examine the impact that our activities have on the environment and implement ways to reduce our consumption of resources and our generation of waste. In keeping with the efforts of Vanderbilt to become a more sustainable campus, the Sustainability and Environmental Management Office has developed this Sustainable Department Greening Guide in order to provide administrators and others interested in greening their offices, departments, or schools with the tools they need to lessen the environmental impact of their day-to-day operations.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The basis of environmental sustainability rests on the concept of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, in that order. The first step in “greening” is to REDUCE. This means making a conscious effort to lessen your consumption of resources and products on a daily basis, whether this is using a reusable coffee mug instead of a disposable one or printing double-sided copies to save paper when emailing will not suffice. Reducing your consumption of resources also reduces the waste you produce.

Reducing waste means looking for products that you can easily REUSE, which is the second step. You might repurpose items yourself, or you can look for places to donate unwanted products so others can reuse them.

To close the waste loop, you should attempt to RECYCLE any product that cannot be reused.

Finally, it is important complete the recycling loop by purchasing recycled products whenever possible. You know that a product has recycled content when you see the recycling chasing arrows in a product catalog or online. The higher the percentage of recycled content, the more you are doing for the environment!

More specific information pertaining to how your office, department, or school can reduce waste, conserve energy and water, purchase green products, and commute environmentally is discussed below on the linked category pages.

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Version 5, November 2012